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.

BISON MEATLOAF
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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