Monday, October 10, 2016

Herbs de Provence Crusted Petite Meatloaf with Classic Demi Glace on Rosti and Juniper Berry Braised Beet Greens

     Gourmet Meatloaf!
     There once was a movie, that had a scene where a fugitive ducked into a local diner to meet with some thugs that were planning a crime.  The cops that were tailing the suspect said, "Well, if the thugs don't kill him, then the meatloaf will!"  That statement says it all about the reputation of meatloaf at greasy spoon diner restaurants! 
     During the last few decades, gourmet American diner restaurants have been a trend.  At these restaurants, gourmet ingredients and skilled culinary techniques are combined to improve the quality and appeal of standard diner fare, like meatloaf.  During the recent Great Recession, many top fine dining chefs successfully marketed gourmet elegant comfort food that customers easily recognized, like a fancy meatloaf variation.  These trends gave meatloaf a fresh new reputation, which inspired consumer interest.   
     Home cooks always make the greatest meatloaf, no matter how lousy the meatloaf really is.  If mom's meatloaf is criticized by a guest, the family will rally in support of mom's meatloaf, because it is the meatloaf that the family member knows best.  This act can be described as "meatloaf loyalty."  
     When the kids grow up and experience a better meatloaf somewhere else, the home meatloaf loyalty finally dissolves and the mom is sad because nobody raves about her meatloaf anymore.  The reality is that the meatloaf was only good, because the family members never ate meatloaf anywhere else.  Therefore, the meatloaf recipe was never changed or improved and eventually meatloaf burnout occurred.
     Life is too short to eat the same meatloaf week after week with no changes.  As the old saying goes, "Variety is the spice of life!"  In order to curb meatloaf burnout, try making a gourmet style meatloaf that renews interest.  When guests or family members say, "I cannot wait to see what kind of gourmet meatloaf you create next," then you know that you have achieved success.  Renewing interest in meatloaf is what making gourmet meatloaf is all about!         
     Today's gourmet meatloaf recipe is made with Certified Black Angus Beef.  Portobello Mushrooms give the meatloaf a rich savory flavor and the French Herbs de Provence crust adds even more appeal.   
     Classic demi glace is a perfect sauce espagnole that is reduced to perfection.  Classic demi glace is the cadillac of demi glace sauces.  Standard demi glace is 1/2 glace viande and 1/2 sauce espagnole that is reduce to a half glaze consistency.  Either of these demi glace variations are a big improvement over a home style brown gravy.  
     Rosti Potato is kind of like a savory rustic potato pancake.  Rosti potato is perfect for serving with a nice meatloaf.  Braised fresh beet greens are a nice vegetable to serve with heavy food.  Juniper Berries add a unique bitter flavor to braised beet greens and juniper berries are a natural digestif.  Keep in mind that the dried juniper berries should be soaked overnight in a refrigerator.  

     Classic Demi Glace (Sauce Espagnole Reduced To Perfection): 
     This espagnole sauce recipe can be used to make Classic Demi Glace.  Classic Demi Glace is a perfect Espagnole Sauce that is reduced to perfection.  The beef stock and sauce are all made in one process.      
     For a perfect Sauce Espagnole, roast the scraps, bones and vegetables without charring anything black.  Skim the grease off the top of the stock as it cooks.  Add only enough brown roux to create a very thin sauce.  Simmer then strain the sauce carefully so it has no impurities.  Simmer and reduce the sauce to a perfect half glaze consistency.
     When making the stock, select a large pot that is big enough to easily contain the bones and liquid.  If the bones are crammed in a pot that is too small, then the stock will not be able to be stirred when the brown roux is added.     
     Step 1:  Place 4 pounds of veal bones, beef bones and meat scraps in a large deep roasting pan.
     Add 4 tablespoons of tomato paste.
     Add this coarse chopped unpeeled mirepoix mixture:  
     - 3 ounces of carrot
     - 3 ounces of celery 
     - 6 ounces of onion  
     Roast the mixture in a 350ºF oven till the bones and vegetables caramelize to a deep brown color, with no black charring.  Toss and stir the ingredients occasionally. 
     Step 2:  Remove the roasting pan from the oven.
     Place the bones and mirepoix into a stock pot. 
     Deglaze the roasting pan with water and add the jus to the stock pot. 
     Cover the bones with 2" of extra water.
     Step 3:  Briefly bring the liquid to a gentle boil over medium high heat. 
     Reduce the temperature to low heat. 
     Gently simmer for 4 hours. 
     Add water occasionally to cover the ingredients.
     Occasionally skim the grease off of the top of the simmering stock.
     Step 4:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring with a whisk, to make a roux.   (About 3/4 cup to 1 cup.  The roux should look like shiny hot peanut butter and it should not look caky.)   
     Constantly stir till the roux turns a brown color.
     Remove the pot from the heat.  
     Step 5:  Slowly add enough of the brown roux to the stock pot to thicken the broth to a very thin sauce consistency.    
     Stir the ingredients together.
     *If all of the brown roux is added and the sauce seems too thin, do not worry.  The sauce will be reduced to the correct consistency later in the recipe!   
     Step 6:  Simmer the thickened meat stock for one hour and stir it occasionally.  Add water if necessary. 
     Step 7:  Remove the stock pot from the heat.
     Use a fryer net or tongs to remove and discard the bones.
     Pout the slightly thickened stock through a fine mesh strainer into a large sauce pot. 
     Discard the bones, meat scraps and vegetables. 
     Step 8:  Place the sauce pot over low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of Madeira Wine per quart of thickened stock.  (For example, 2 quarts of slightly thickened stock will require 1 cup of Madeira.) 
     Add 1 bouquet garni of bay leaf, chervil and thyme. 
     Add 1 cup of mushroom trimmings.
     Add 1 bunch of parsley stalks.
     Add 2 chopped shallots.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns. 
     Add sea salt to taste. 
     Step 9:  Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that easily glazes a spoon.  
     Step 10:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a container.  (The yield should be about 1 quart.)  
     Set the sauce aside or chill it for later use.
     Reheat the sauce to order.  (About 1 1/2 ounces are needed for 1 meatloaf portion.)

     Herbs du Provence Crusted Petite Meatloaf:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty individual portion meatloaf. 
     A petite single portion meatloaf is best for herb crusting.  This way the herbs do not scorch.  
     Small terrine pâté loaf pans are best for this recipe.  A stack of petite terrine pans cost very little money, if several petite meat loafs need to be made.       
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small diced carrot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small diced peeled celery.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small diced onion.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced portobello mushroom.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Gently sauté the vegetables till they start to become tender.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the vegetables and butter from the pan into a mixing bowl.
     Add 7 ounces of Ground Certified Black Angus Beef.  
     Add 1/4 cup of fresh plain French bread crumbs.  (Soft bread crumbs, not dried.)
     Add 1 tablespoon of whisked egg.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Brush a petite terrine pan with vegetable oil.  (The terrine pan should be about 2 1/2"x 5")
     Place the meatloaf mixture into the roasting pan.
     Use your hands to shape the meatloaf mixture into a smooth bread loaf shape.  (The meatloaf should be a little bit taller than the pan and mounded into a loaf shape.)
     Step 4:  Brush the meatloaf with melted unsalted butter.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of Herbs de Provence on the meatloaf.  
     *Select a French Herbs de Provence mixture that has no lavender flowers.  Lavender leaves are usually part of French Herbs de Provence and that is traditional.  American Herbs de Provence has lavender flowers in the mixture.
     Gently press the herbs onto the meatloaf.
     Step 5:  Place the meatloaf terrine pan on a roasting pan.
     Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.  
     Roast the meatloaf till it is fully cooked and the crust is lightly browned.  (A probe thermometer should read 160º to 165º.)
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the oven.
     Keep the meatloaf warm on a stove top or reheat it in a 300ºF oven before serving. 

     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (1medium size rosti)
     The rosti can be made while the meatloaf bakes.  
     Step 1:  Grate 1 peeled 6 ounce russet potato into a mixing bowl.  
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Toss the ingredients together, so they do not oxidize.
     Step 2:  Add 2 tablespoons of grated onion.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground sage.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Heat a small non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Place the rosti mixture into the sauté pan.
     Flatten the mixture evenly with a spatula.  Round the edges to create a pancake shape.
     Sauté the rosti to a light golden brown color on the bottom half.  (Do not disturb the rosti as it pan fries!)
     Step 4:  Flip the rosti in the pan.
     *If necessary, use a spatula to press the rosti back into a pancake shape.
     Pan fry the rosti for 1 minute.
     Step 5:  Place the sauté pan with the rosti in a 325ºF degree oven.
     Roast the rosti in the oven till it is fully cooked and the crust is crispy golden brown.
     Keep the rosti warm on a stove top.

     Juniper Berry Braised Beet Greens:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     The greens can be made while the meatloaf bakes.
     Step 1:  Soak 8 dried juniper berries in 1 cup of water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Place the soaking water and juniper berries in a sauce pot.
     Simmer over very low heat, till the juniper berries become softened.
     Set the liquid and juniper berries aside.
     Step 2:  Cut the green tops off of 3 to 5 beets.  (Enough for 1 bunch.) 
     Trim the excess stems and any damaged leaves. 
     Wash the greens under cold running water.
     Drain off any excess water.
     Step 3:  Heat a deep sauté pan (sauteuse pan) over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped onion.
     Sauté till the onions start to turn clear in color.
     Step 4:  Add the beet greens.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté till the beet greens wilt.
     Step 5:  Add the reserved juniper berries and the juniper berry liquid.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of dry white wine. 
     Add 1 1/2 cups of light chicken stock.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil. 
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Cover the pan with a loose fitting lid.
     Braise the greens, till they become tender.  (Beet greens do not take much time to become tender, so the green and purple colors will be pronounced!)
     Step 7:  Remove the lid.
     Raise the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the excess liquid evaporates.
     Keep the juniper berry braised beet greens warm on a stove top.

     Herbs de Provence Crusted Petite Meatloaf with Classic Demi Glace on Rosti and Juniper Berry Braised Beet Greens:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Place the Rosti on the center of a plate.
     Place the Juniper Berry Braised Beet Greens on the plate around the Rosti.
     Step 2:  Cut the Herbs de Provence Crusted Petite Meatloaf into 3/8" thick slices.
     Overlap the meatloaf slices across the Rosti.
     Step 3:  Spoon and cascade about 1 1/2 ounces of the Classic Demi Glace over half of the meatloaf and on part of the Rosti and beet greens.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.

     Voila!  This gourmet meatloaf entrée definitely is classic comfort food! 

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