October 22, 2009 | Meat & Poultry
I hope you didn’t miss yesterday’s Lentil and Squash Casserole post – I made it to go together with this lamb meatloaf since they share the same seasoning profile, which is important when planning dishes to go together. Who wants some garlic and tomato based Italian dish paired with some terriyaki flavored sushi plate, right?
I picked up my first ever whole Colorado lamb from the processing plant near Greeley yesterday. Processing is just a more palatable word for cutting up the animal into steaks, chops, and ground meat and packaging it for the consumer. Friends have asked if I feel badly that that lamb was slaughtered. Well, I’d be completely cold-hearted if I didn’t twinge a little, but the reality is that unless you are going to be a vegetarian, you are eating animals. Just because you buy it already in plastic wrap in a grocery freezer case doesn’t mean it wasn’t a baby lamb at one point. But by buying a lamb from my organic farmer friends, I am happy to know the animal was raised in a humane way, allowed to feed naturally, and kept with it’s mother. I won’t even tell you how it’s usually done – you can see Food, Inc. if you want to understand. Enough soap box for one day! I quickly perused all of the cuts of meat in my box – which includes pretty much the head to tail, so neck bones, shoulder roast, riblets, loin chops, leg roasts, and ground meat – and decided to start with the ground lamb as I didn’t have a lot of time to slow roast a shoulder or leg. I love meatloaf, even though my husband hates it – and now you know one of the primary reasons I cook: I get to decide what’s for dinner! So lamb meatloaf was my plan. Start by combining the ground lamb with eggs (I started with one, but added a second because it looked too dry), spices (cumin, coriander, thyme, salt, pepper, and cinnamon), toasted pine nuts, and raisins. (Gail, if you’re reading this I know you are cringing – just leave the raisins out!) I use a fork to whisk it all together at this point so you don’t overwork the meat and make it tough. Next add finely chopped onion, parsley (I only had dry on hand) and bread crumbs, and combine until it’s evenly mixed. Gently press it into a small loaf pan and bake until just barely medium well. If you cook it longer than this (which I unfortunately did), it will be quite dry. I didn’t make a sauce because it was snowing and I didn’t want to go to the store to get yogurt which I was out of, but a quick yogurt sauce would really make this sing (and probably make it more enjoyable for those like my husband who just find meatloaf too firm and well done). Combine 1 cup plain Greek yogurt mixed with the zest of a lemon, a little of the lemon juice, about a tablespoon of minced fresh mint, and salt and pepper to taste. If you can’t find Greek yogurt, which is thicker, just let regular plain yogurt sit in a strainer for 30 minutes to release some of the liquid. The crunch of the pine nuts and the surprising little hits of sweetness from the raisins really work well with lamb. And don’t forget the lentil side dish!
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatloaf
This meatloaf would be fabulous with a yogurt sauce spiked with some lemon and mint.
1 pound ground lamb
2 large eggs
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 ounce raisins, rehydrated in hot water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced fine
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Mix all ingredients together gently, taking care not to overwork the meat. Press gently into a small loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until medium well.