This blog is a place to share my passion for cooking and inspire people to cook more from scratch. With six people in the family, cooking is something that is always on my mind. I want to share some of my favorite foods and recipes and share more about traditional diets (like the kind of food our great, great, great grandmothers would have made). Right now I am fascinated with fermented vegetables, coconuts, seafood with a cerviche twist and organ meats... although maybe not all in the same meal!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nothin' says Lovin' like meatloaf from the heart

   Since Valentine's Day falls on a Monday this year, it is hard to think about going out to dinner when there are after school clubs, basketball practice and homework to juggle as well. My husband asked if I wanted to go out to dinner, but honestly I'd rather avoid the crowds and just have a nice family meal together at home.  My husband is a man of ritual and routine and he likes meatloaf once a week so I decided to make it "meatloaf Monday" since I have a thing for alliteration.
  While my husband likes rules and routine, I tend to be more of a creative spirit.  One of the ways I express this is by always making up new recipes.  In my mind, meatloaf needs meat, an egg for a binder, salt/pepper, and some diced vegetables mixed in.  The exact amounts and type of meat varies from week to week as do the vegetable mix ins.  Truth be told, I doubt I have ever made the same exact meatloaf twice.  I think it makes life a little more exciting... sometimes you hit a big winner and sometimes you fall a little flat but at least you can't say that it is boring.  The other thing I like to do with my meatloaf is sneak in various organ meats as this adds a great deal of nutrition to the final meal.  Sometimes I add a small bit of ground liver to the meatloaf mixture. I find that if I keep the amount of liver to under 1/5 or 1/6 of the total meat content, it will fly under the radar undetected and still be tolerated by the masses without revolt during dinner.  While some think organ meats are unsavory or full of cholesterol or toxic substances, it is interesting to note that people have eaten organ meats throughout the ages.  They are an excellent source of vitamins A and D as well as essential fatty acids and minerals. It is important to purchase only organs from grass-fed animals so you can avoid the toxic waste found in organs of unhealthy animals.  If you are healthy yourself, your own liver should also be able to eject any residual toxins leftover from our polluted world.  It is good to make friends with the local farmers in your community so that you can have access to pasture-raised healthy livestock.
A thawed chunk of beef heart
  Since it is Valentine's Day, I thought what better organ meat to add in but HEART itself.  My friend Claire taught me a great trick about how to fit a little heart into ground meat.  When you buy the big 'ol honkin' heart from a farmer (trust me it is a massive thing to see a beef heart all in one piece), you can thaw just enough to be able to cut the heart into several smaller chunks of about 1/2 pound each.  I then keep each of these smaller heart parts in baggies in the freezer and when I need a little heart, I just take out one of the baggies and let it thaw while I make the rest of the meatloaf. One extra bonus of using heart instead of liver is that it does not have a strong taste so it is virtually undetectable in small amounts when mixed into a larger amount of ground meat.
Meatloaf right before entering the oven
  So tonight's meatloaf has about 6 - 8 oz of ground beef heart, 1 1/2 lbs of grass fed ground beef, 1 lb of ground turkey and 1 lb of ground pork sausage.  I seasoned with salt/pepper and added some vodka tomato sauce, sauteed turnips, kale, carrots, basil and garlic with dashes of paprika and tumeric and added an egg to bind everything together.  I greased my heart-shaped pan with coconut oil and put the mixture in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  The tomato sauce gave the meatloaf a nice valentine's red hue.  It warms my heart to know we can sit down for a healthy meal and enjoy family time together.  Happy Valentine's Day to all!  

3 comments:

  1. Very nice job! Looks and tasted great!

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  2. So how did you grind up that heart? Somehow heart doesn't bug me as much as liver- maybe because it's mostly muscle and to me muscle = meat.

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  3. I just use my food processor to grind it up. You can cut it into small chunks and the food processor can handle it from there.

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