Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The simple secret to lean, moist bison meatloaf

I almost called this "Meatloaf for Mushroom Lovers," but even if you don't love mushrooms, I think you'll like this recipe.

I often use bison for burgers because it's more flavorful than lean ground beef. This is January, though (although our widely fluctuating temperatures make some days feel more like April), and I was in the mood for meatloaf.

I always add lots of chopped onions to meatloaf along with an egg and seasonings. This time, though, I happened to have fresh mushrooms on hand. I used the caps to make Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms, then chopped the stems and mixed them into the meatloaf.

Anyone who's cooked mushrooms in a skillet knows how much liquid they contain. When you sauté, you want the liquid to evaporate, but I wanted it to add moisture to the meat.

As I combined the ingredients, I thought that I might have overdone the amount of mushrooms. When the meatloaf was done, however, the cooked mushrooms had blended into the meat, keeping it moist and contributing subtle, savory flavor.

Yield: 3 or 4 servings

1 egg
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely minced button mushrooms (stems only or stems and caps)
1/3 to 1/2 cup minced onion, to taste
1 pound ground bison (see note)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a small broiler pan with foil. Spray the slotted top portion of the pan with nonstick cooking spray. (Or use a sturdy rack set in a baking pan. Don't use a loaf pan -- you want the drippings to drain away.)

Beat the egg in a medium bowl. Add Worchestershire, salt and pepper; mix well. Add mushrooms and onion. Crumble meat into the bowl. With your hands, mix gently but well.

Form the mixture into a loaf and place on the broiler pan. Bake until a thermometer inserted into the middle of the loaf reaches 160 degrees, about 45 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and let sit for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Note: I've found that fresh ground bison from the butcher case is more tender than prepacked frozen ground bison.

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