It's a slippery slope - to admit to someone that you actually like meat loaf. It should be done with caution and only around people whom you love and trust. (Especially if you used to be a vegan, like I was!). It's the kind of meal that you make only for your immediate family, once it's clear that everyone approves of the concoction and only if it comes smothered in ketchup and a side of creamy mashed potatoes. Well, I'm about to turn your world upside down and propose that you throw out that old, dated recipe and update it with this one. (It's best to keep it to your self that the recipe calls for prunes). But, please trust me on this, it is absolutely delicious. The basil crust and home made tomato sauce put this over the top. I served it with a large side of sauteed kale and mustard greens, no starchy potatoes. You will never make grandma's meat loaf again.
Note: I tried to get a good photo of this, but the combination of using an iPhone and having meat loaf as my subject, it just didn't work out!
Basil Crusted Meat Loaf with Brandy, Walnuts and Spicy Tomato Sauce
From How to Cook Meat, by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
Serves 4- 8
1 Bunch basil - leaves only, roughly chopped
3 TBLS olive oil
4 Garlic cloves, peeled
salt and freshly cracked pepper
2 lbs ground beef, preferably grass fed.
2 tsp minced garlic
1 small onion - peeled and grated
1/2 cup walnuts -toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup prunes - pitted and roughly chopped
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 TBLS salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions - small dice
2 TBLS minced garlic
1 TBLS ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup dry red wine
2 cup canned Italian crushed tomatoes, with liquid
1 bay leaf
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350*
Make the crust:
1. With food processor running, feed basil, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper through the feed tube - in that order. Form a paste - do not over blend. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, garlic, onion, walnuts, prunes, eggs, brandy, allspice, salt and pepper. Mix well and shape into a loaf and place in a shallow baking dish. Spread basil paste over the meat. Bake for about an hour, or until juices run clear when you poke a knife through it. (About 130* with a meat thermometer).
3. While meat loaf is baking, prepare the tomato sauce. In a large saute pan, heat oil on med high heat almost until smoking and add onions, and cook stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, until they are golden. Add garlic, coriander, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes and stir. Add wine and stir once or twice, allow to simmer for about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaf and simmer, stirring frequently until sauce has thickened to your liking, about 45 minutes.
4. Cut the meat loaf into thick slabs and serve topped with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.