Saturday, September 26, 2015

Choucroute Loaf

I have not posted the last two Saturdays as I had the good fortune to spend eight days in Tuscany. Our good friend Debbie Drill suggested a year ago that it would be fun for our group of three couples to rent a villa in Tuscany. After an extensive internet search, we settled on Villa Paolina. High in the Tuscan hills, it's about 40 minutes outside of Florence. While the setting and views were incredible, the furnishings and artwork simply took our breath away. Check out the photos:

Because the villa was at the top of an incredibly high hill and the only way to get there was by car on a  truly challenging, single lane road....we never ventured out at night (thousand-foot sheer drop-offs if you erred). So the six of us would hit the market by day and cook up a feast every evening. Now I know we were in the heart of Chianti country, but I was absolutely blown away by the quality and cost of the wine.

A spectacular bottle of Reserve Chianti Classico could be had for just 4€ ($4.48 US). That same bottle would set you back $20 in the states. All of the Chardonnays produced in the region are remarkable and unoaked and sell for 3€ to 5€. The village of San Donato In Collina, which sat at the base of the hill we lived on, had a wine store that sold wine just like the tap houses do here in Minnesota. You bring in an empty bottle of wine and they would fill it up for you for as little as 1€ ($1.12 US).

One of the things I picked up on our trip to Tuscany was making meals using flatbread as the base to create a number of entrees. I'm going to do that tonight and will take photos so that I can share that with you next Saturday. But today I am going to share a fascinating meatloaf recipe with you. The recipe harkens from the Alsatian region of France.

Now the French would never give their food a banal name like meatloaf. So they call this Choucroute Loaf. Let them call it what they will, this is one of the most unique and delicious meatloaf recipes I have ever tasted (hats off to chef Melanie Bernard!). Imagine ingredients like apple, smoked ham, rye bread, horseradish, mustard, beef, pork, veal and applesauce. Better yet, don't imagine. Just make it, for nothing is easier than meatloaf.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tart apple (I like Granny Smith), peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ pound smoked ham, minced
1 ¼ pound mixture of ground chuck, pork and veal
1 cup rye bread crumbs
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
cup unsweetened applesauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the onion over medium heat until it is soft, about 4 minutes. Add the apple and garlic and cook, stirring, for two minutes more. Cool the mixture for a few minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the onion, apple and garlic mixture, meats, bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of the horseradish, mustard, thyme, caraway seeds, pepper and eggs. Shape the meat into a 9-by-5-inch loaf or just pat into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, smoothing the top.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the applesauce and the remaining horseradish. Spread over the meatloaf and bake until the loaf is firm and brown, about 1 hour.

Wine pairing: Almost all of the wines of Alsace are white, which I would not want to have with this meatloaf. So I would recommend Chianti Classico.

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