Friday, July 13, 2007

"Meat" Loaf

I've said it before, but the things that I miss being a vegetarian I don't typically miss so much for the meat as for the comfort factor. Things like my dad's chicken stir fry, my mom's split pea and ham bone soup, and most of all: my grandma's meat loaf patties. My mom thinks my fascination w/ meatloaf came from the fact that my grandma was making meatloaf patties as I was brought home as a newborn from the hospital. She might be on to something there.
The entire time I was growing up, I lived in LA with my parents while my grandparents were about a 5 hour drive away in Las Vegas. We'd drive up there a few times a year . . . sometimes more than a few times. The one thing I could count on after making the long trek out there was that my grandma would have a batch of meatloaf patties and a casserole of au gratin potatoes ready and waiting for our arrival. When I became a vegetarian at 18, I can remember my grandma trying at least a dozen times to replicate her meatloaf patties using tofu or fake meat products. While the tofu patties were spectacularly unsuccessful, the kind we made with fake ground meat were usually pretty darn good. It wasn't until after she died, however, that I finally figured out the secret to making meatloaf patties that were close enough to hers to fool me. My grandma used to steam her patties to cook the meat through, but every veggie version we tried fell apart on the steamer rack. Eventually I realized that I could skip that step, since veggie meat is perfectly safe to eat without cooking to any specific temperature. And to get the patty shape, the big "trick", I use muffin tins.
My usual disclaimer aside (I haven't had meat in a decade!), I DO think that these patties taste very much like the real thing. I wonder if my grandma would agree.

My Grandma's Meatloaf Patties (Veggie Style!):

1 package of Yves brand fake ground meat (or any other variety, thawed if frozen)
1 egg
pinch salt
pepper
about 1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 very small onion, minced very finely

-mix all ingredients together well with your hands
-form patties into six balls and place in the wells of a 6 cup muffin tin
-bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes (or until tops start to brown and crisp. Be wary of overcooking though, since this can dry the patties out)

For maximum authenticity, serve with au gratin style potatoes (from a Betty Crocker box, of course!)

Listening:  Failure- "Enjoy The Silence"

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