The original title of this recipe was Rustic French Meat Loaf. Doesn't that just sound so yummy and comforting for a cold, mid-winter's repast?
I found the recipe in an old Gourmet magazine I was about to recycle. Years ago I had tagged the recipe and I can see why. When I read the list of ingredients I knew I had to make it. It combines some of my favorite foods: fruit and nuts. It's not all that exotic to combine fruit in meat dishes when you come to think of it. Italians do it all the time with braciole. There's duck with orange sauce. Ham with raisins, and the list goes on. We just don't think of it when it comes to an all-American meat loaf.
The addition of chicken liver gives this meat loaf a richness and a meatiness not found in the conventional, ketchup-slathered stuff.
And you don't have to feel totally guilty indulging in this recipe -- after all, there's fiber and minerals in fruit; and nuts are good for you, right? Besides, you need a little extra "insulation" to get you through hibernation.
Meat Loaf Avec L'Attitude
(NB: although the recipe calls for shelled, unsalted pistachios I couldn't find them in my supermarket so I used shelled, salted ones and shook them in a sieve to eliminate most of the salt. Also, make sure the prunes are very fresh -- ditto for the nuts -- and leave them in small chunks. You might consider substituting plump raisins for the prunes).
For 1, 8.5" x 4.5" glass loaf pan, 4-5 servings
- 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lb chicken livers, separated into lobes, trimmed and rinsed (usually found frozen; you might have to look around for them in the chicken section of the grocery store -- or ask the butcher, if there is one on site)
- 3/4 lb. ground pork
- 3/4 lb. ground veal
- 1/4 cup chopped pitted prunes (or raisins)
- 1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
- 2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
* Preheat oven to 475 F with rack in middle.
* Soak bread crumbs in milk in a small bowl
* Cook onion, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper in oil in a small skillet over med. heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
* Puree livers in a blender, then transfer to large bow. Add pork, veal, prunes, pistachios, thyme, eggs, bread crumb mixture, onion mixture, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and gently mix with your hands until just combined.
* Transfer meatloaf mixture to the loaf pan and bake, covered with foil, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 165 degrees, about 50 minutes or more. Let rest 5 minutes. Cover top of meatloaf with parsley before serving.
Serve with a salad of mixed greens from the winter farmers market. Dress the salad with a tangy dijon mustard dressing.