Sunday, January 22, 2012

Food Features: Experimental Cooking: Waldorf Mealoaf

I love cheese.  It's a very rare person who doesn't.  So after a recent conversation about cheese with burgers, particularly varying it up with Camembert or blue cheese, I started to wonder how it would fare in a meatloaf.  Meatloaf, the mother of all pot luck meals, was a staple in our household growing up, to some of our joy and others' dismay.  But as an adult I've have fun experimenting with the variations of ingredients that a standard meatloaf can adapt to.  Two favorites included the Mexican meatloaf - salsa mixed in with the meat and a topping of cheddar and sour cream - and one mixed with chopped canned peaches.  That one sounded awful but came out fantastic. 

So in this latest incarnation, I started thinking about Waldorf salads.  Lettuce, apples, walnuts and cheese.  Or at least that's the version I've always made.  So, with that inspiration in mind, I decided to see how a Waldorf meatloaf would fare.

The basic ingredients:  1 pound of ground/mince beef, 3 apples, 1 standard wedge of blue cheese, about 1/2 cup walnuts for inside, another 3/4 for the topping and one egg.  I decided to forgo the usual breadcrumbs as I thought the apples would help to hold the meat together, not to mention the crumbled walnuts, rendering breadcrumbs unnecessary.  Apples were chopped in relatively fine chunks, though not tiny.  The cheese was crumbled with a fork to small bits. The walnuts similarly were broken down, using a mortal and pestle, to small nibs.  You could use a blender, but I wanted them to retain their shape, not turn into a pulverized powder.

Using your hands, everything gets mixed together until the meat takes on an almost smooth consistency.  You no longer can see the "grains" of the ground meat.  Then it's shaped into a loaf on the tray.  I line it with tin foil because I'm lazy and don't want to spend hours after scrubbing the chunks off the pan, but that's optional.

I then ground up some more walnuts, more finely this time, and sprinkled them liberally over the loaf and baked at 220 C/400 F for about 45-50 minutes.

I actually couldn't decide whether I liked it or not.  The flavors varied slightly from bite to bite, which was a pleasant surprise, some pieces getting more cheese and others more apple.  The nuts added a nice crunch and toasty flavor, but the blue cheese at times was a little overwhelming for me.  I might like it a tad bit better with a slightly milder cheese that still had a tangy bite, like feta or goat cheese.  My fellow diner quite enjoyed it, though he found the sweetness of the apple slightly odd, which was actually one of my favorite parts.  The loaf had a nice consistency, though, and overall held together well.

We both, however, went back for seconds.  And the leftovers he took home were all devoured.  He said it made a great meatloaf sandwich the next day.  So the verdict I would say is a tempered successful experiment - definitely edible and quite enjoyable, but appeal will vary by personal palate.

We've since talked about making a ground pork meatloaf with apple and sage.  So stay tuned for further experimental meatloaf editions....

No comments:

Post a Comment