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Saturday 6 October 2012

Glazed meatloaf with oatmeal subbing in for breadcrumbs for super moist flavorful meatloaf! And safe beef tips

Yes, meatloaf is made with ground beef, and yes, though there is a recent E. coli scare - we have to take things with a grain of salt. Also, though I was introduced to this humble and convenient one-pan dish a little while ago, both me and my boyfriend love meatloaf, and will continue to support the awesome beef industry in Alberta. We do produce some of the best tasting beef in the world :)

So before you panic and think I'm totally insane, here's my rationale why me and my family are still eating beef and do not fear putting beef related products on our table.  Being proactive and taking care to prep meats safely will reduce risk and give us tasty results: 1. Its near impossible not to have cross contamination as beef gets from farm to slaughter house, to cold storage, potentially another 1-3 processing facilities to stores/butchers that further cut/process meat products, to your fridge, in your kitchen and to your dinner table. Now, that said, the food industry tries to minimize risk at any step they can control, but hey, they're human and there will be human error.
2. There are lots of strains of E.coli out there. We only have to be worried when:
a) they're a smarter strain that can make us sick quick b) they're in high enough #'s to beat up our intestinal bacteria guarding us
3. Properly stored and cooked, beef is safe to eat.
4. Be proactive: ask your butcher or grocery store if any of the steaks have been just cut (good) or have they been tenderized in anyway (bacteria can potentially be introduced into the centre of the sterile meat). Steaks and roasts would only have surface bacteria easily killed off as you cook it (yes, we can still enjoy our blue rare steaks). If you like your meat more tender, pound it/needle it or whatever when you get home.
5. With ground meat, get a trusty meat thermometer (regular oven safe or digital instant read or oven safe digital!) and cook until internal temperatures reaches 71°C (160°F). Ground beef should always be cooked to well done. Why? Well, grinding it up into burgers increases the surface area for bacteria to move in about a bazillion times. 71°C (160°F) = no prob. Simple!
6. And always, to reduce cross contamination in your own home:
-wash your hands before, during and after prep
-keep raw meats away from foods you're planning to eat raw
-use separate cutting boards -don't prep meat and then your veges (other way around!)
-cook raw meat within 3 days of pkg date (unless its vacuum packed - look for expiration date) -place leftovers in fridge within 3hrs (3hours = lots of happy breeding time for any bacteria going ooooh food!) and eat any leftovers within 3 days
-give your working surfaces a good cleaning after working with raw meats

Alright, now onto the yummy meatloaf recipe with oatmeal. Yup oatmeal - oatmeal is definitely superior over breadcrunbs both in flavor, fibre content and ability to make the meatloaf incredibly moist. I was scared the oatmeal may give the meatloaf a weird texture, but the oatmeal pulls an invisiblilty trick like Jame's car in Die another day,. So, we start by measuring out the dubious oatmeal, milk...
Yup -quick cooking oatmeal is the binder instead of the traditional breadcrumbs. Works way better if you want a moist meatloaf!
Marbled mozza/cheddar shredded cheese, quick oats, herbs, some hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce for some zing and mustard - I used sweet onion dijon as it was sitting pretty in my fridge

Add in the eggs and milk, mix and let sit a few min so the oatmeal gets happy and hydrated

So I roughly chopped up some onions while I (a bit teary eyed) waited for the oatmeal to get acquainted with all the other flavors. I’ve tried putting onions in the fridge, under water, holding my breath, but onions (even sweet ones) will always make me cry. A fine concise dice isn’t required (gives your meatloaf more character especially if you’re lazy like me) unless you like your vegetables pulling a spy-concealment mission from young kids (or kids at heart)

Add in the fresh extra lean ground beef last and mix well. Don't worry, this mixture looks yucky before it looks yummy

Meatloaf patted into an olive oil lightly greased pans. Pyrex glass on left (from this set: Pyrex Easy Grab 19-Piece Glass Bakeware Set ), and non-stick metal loaf pan on right. You can put into muffin tins for hockey puck sized meatloaf patties... but you'll need a lot of muffin pans if you've doubled up the recipe (made 2x recipe as I was having company!).  I've also tried it in a non-stick loaf pan (Meatloaf pan with drip tray) with a removable insert which was great for draining off a lot of the fat that cooks off (not pictured).

These two together in BBQ sauce.. always! But who would have thought ketchup (katsup) would work so well with brown sugar as a simple glaze?

All coated in a sexy layer of the ketchup-brown sugar glaze. Why am I using two different loaf pans? I was curious which one would turn out a better looking and moister meat loaf... and I was too lazy to dig around for matching loaf pans lol!

And after 45min in the oven, these babies are ready to be sliced into and noshed upon! The pyrex glass loaf pan made a taller meatloaf (as the meatloaf could stick tot he sides and expand upwards I guess) while the non-stick pan had a denser and stunted, more compact meatloaf. Oddly, both meatloafs were equally moist, though the pyrex pan had a lot more moisture and fat pooled at the bottom

Baked up a small container of lazy potato gratin - same as regular potato gratin, but I used up my leftover mashed potatoes reducing the time in the oven to just long enough to heat up the whole thing

Side of fresh cherry tomatos drizzled with extra virgin olive, some slabs of fresh mozzerella and a few snips of fresh lemon basil leaves to round things out.

Almost forgot the cracked black pepper!

And... the ridiculously moist and flavorful meatloaf thanks to the spices I tossed in, and Mr oatmeal. The oatmeal just completely disappears into this meatloaf, leaving a meaty super moist meatloaf! So don't feel you can't have beef anymore. Be proactive, practise safe kitchen practises and enjoy your food :)

And here be the recipe for the meatloaf! This makes 1 meatloaf or 12 meat cupcake patties Ingredients for Meatloaf
1 egg 3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon soysauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 pound extra lean ground beef (leaner your beef, less grease your meatloaf will sit in after its cooked)
Ingredients for glaze
2/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.In a large bowl, combine the egg, milk, cheese, oats and all seasonings. Let sit for a few minutes so the oatmeal absorbs some of the liquid. Add the ground beef, and mix well
3. Form meat mixture into 1 meatloaf in a lightly greased loaf pan or pat into 12 mini patties in a lightly greased muffin pan.
4.In a separate small bowl, combine the ketchup and brown sugar. Spread over meatloaf(s). 5.Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes. Check that  internal temp reads at least 71C or 160F. Dig in!! :)

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