When the weather gets colder, it seems like classic comfort foods start to get a lot more attention in our kitchen. I don’t think anyone could argue that meatloaf is about as classic as it gets. The problem with meatloaf though, is that I really didn’t like it much when I was growing up. I never had a hankering for meatloaf, never ordered it in diners, and I never really got excited when someone cooked it for me. My biggest problem with meatloaf was that all too often it was a dry hunk of rather tasteless beef topped with a sickly sweet ketchup sauce. Did I mention that I don’t really care much for mass-produced ketchup either?
Then I met my husband, a bone fide meatloaf lover. He likes to get creative with meatloaf and suddenly I found myself *gasp* enjoying the creations he concocted. Meatloaf with pepperoni and bacon, meatloaf with a cheesy layer in the middle, meatloaf with lots of spices and nary a spoonful of ketchup in sight. His meatloaf is never dry; his secret ingredient is evaporated milk. It sounds strange but it keeps the meatloaf moist without making it soupy.
We developed this meatloaf because we were looking to recreate a delicious moussaka we made earlier in the summer. The spice combination was very tasty and we felt that it would translate well to a meatloaf. We made this with ground beef but if there had been any ground lamb in the house, we definitely would have included it as well. Combine the ground beef with moussaka spices, a layer of feta cheese, and top with a spiced tomato jam and you have a meatloaf that even I can get behind.
Greek Inspired Meatloaf
About 1 lb ground beef or a mix of ground beef and ground lamb
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 oz evaporated goat’s milk (you can substitute regular evaporated milk if desired)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup bread crumbs
4 oz feta cheese – crumbled
1 recipe Tomato Jam (see below)
Preheat your oven to 375F. In a medium bowl combine the red onion, egg, evaporated goats milk, and the tomato paste. Use your wicked (awesome) whisk to mix. Add in the spices and bread crumbs and whisk to combine. Add the ground meat and mix by hand until just integrated. Be gentle and don’t overmix or the loaf will be tough. Form the ground beef into a ball and divide in half. Using a meatloaf pan (a basic loaf pan with a false bottom) or a loaf pan, layer half the meat and sprinkle with the feta cheese.
Top with the remaining meat and spread the tomato jam on the top. Bake the loaf in oven for 50 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads between 155F and 170F. The loaf should rest 10-15 minutes before serving.
This meatloaf serves four people.
Adapted from a recipe in the New York Times
About 1 lb of fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/2 – 2/3 cup sugar (we used 2/3 cup and it was pretty sweet, use less sugar for a less sweet jam)
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
Rounded 1/2 tsp cumin
Rounded 1/8 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan set over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has the consistency of thick jam. About 1 hour and 15 minutes.