Sunday, April 05, 2009

Meat Loaf in a Breadbasket

This recipe is from the early 1980's--probably from the SF Chronicle; we made it a number of times for canoe trips when we lived in Minnesota. --PKS

It's not a poor man's Wellington, it's meat loaf in a breadbasket.

Wedges of meat loaf baked in a bread round make warming fare for wnter picnics.

Wrapped in an overcoat of crusty French bread, somewhat remindful of the celebrated Beef Wellington filet-in-a-wrapper, this warm, vegetable-laced meat loaf makes a satisfying and easy-to-carry entrée for cool-weather picnics. And with the help of a food processor, you can quickly prepare a meat mixture that's lean enough to bake right inside the bread.

First chop beef round or well-trimmed beef chuck in the food processor until medium-fine in texture. Then process bread crumbs, parsley, onions, and cheese in the machine, blend them with eggs and seasonings, and shape the mixture into a loaf.

Once the savory sandwich loaf is baked and wrapped in foil, it will keep warm as long as 3 hours. Serve it in wedges accompanied with a mild cheese, relishes, and wine or other beverage.

Meat Loaf in a Breadbasket

1 large round loaf (1 1/2 lbs.) French bread, 9 to 10 inches in diameter
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds beef round or chuck
1 small onion
1/2 cup packed parsley sprigs
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon each oregano leaves and dry basil
4 ounces jack or Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons soft butter

Using a long serrated knife, slice the bread in half horizontally. Pull soft bread out of both halves, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell. Then with the metal blade of a food processor, chop enough bread to make 1 1/4 cups crumbs, save the remaining bread for other uses. Turn crumbs into a large bowl; stir in the milk and let stand 5 minutes.

Trim excess fat from meat and cut into 1-inch cubes; you should have 3 cups. With the metal blade, chop 1 cup of the meat cubes at a time with on-off bursts until medium-fine. (Or grind cubes in a electric meat chopper.) add meat to bread crumbs.

Peel onion and cut into chunks. Place in the food processor with the parsley and process with metal blade using on-off bursts until coarsely chopped. Add eggs, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil to vegetables and process 2 seconds to blend; add to meat mixture.

Using the shredding disk, shred the cheese in the processor; add to other ingredients. Mix together all ingredients until blended. Pack meat mixture into bottom half of the bread shell; press lid firmly into place. Rub butter all over loaf.

Securely wrap loaf in a single thickness of heavy foil or a double thickness of lightweight foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350º oven for 2 hours.

Loosen foil to allow steam to escape; let stand 10 minutes. To transport, rewrap in foil and pack into a picnic basket; it should keep warm 3 hours. Cut loaf in wedges.

Serves 6 to 8

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