During our last visit, I inquired about the recipe and was told it had been featured as one of the winners of San Diego Home & Garden Magazine's 2009 Silver Fork Awards. I immediately searched the web, located the recipe, and added it to my "must try at home and blog about" list.
Yesterday, while enjoying a crackling fire, our beautiful Christmas tree, and Bocelli playing in the background, I spent a relaxing Sunday afternoon in the kitchen recreating this dish.
The published recipe states it makes one loaf, but with close to 4 lbs. of ground lamb, and all of the other ingredients, that would be one mighty large meatloaf! I made the full recipe, and used two, regular-sized loaf pans. I guess you could cut the recipe in half if you're not feeding the neighborhood, but I think freezing the extra uncooked meatloaf would work well.
The list of ingredients seems quite long, but it really doesn't take that long to prepare (30-40 minutes) plus cooking time of 1 hour and 15 minutes. It's definitely worth the effort for the incredible and unique flavors. I love the chewiness of the figs, crunch of the pine nuts, slight kick from the cayenne, and sweetness of the jus.
Not Your Momma's Lamb Meatloaf
Chef Matt Gordon, Urban Solace, San Diego
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1/4 cup sherry wine
3 3/4 lb. ground lamb
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups chopped dried black figs (soak for a few minutes and chop them wet)
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup steak sauce (A-1 or Heinz 57)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh marjoram
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon plain paprika
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 strips bacon for molding loaf pans
All the ingredients, with the exception of the bacon, are mixed together in a mixer bowl with the hook attachment. As you prepare the ingredients, just start adding them to the bowl.
Start by toasting 1 cup of pine nuts.
Sauté onion and celery in olive oil, until softened. Deglaze the pan with sherry or dry white wine and let reduce. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool.
Soak dried black figs (I used another splash of white wine) and then coarsely chop them. Measure 1 cup of crumbled feta cheese.
Chop the fresh herbs: Basil, mint and marjoram (I was unable to find fresh marjoram and substituted about 2 tablespoons dried)
Add Worcestershire sauce, A-1 steak sauce, and Pomegranate Molasses.
Mix all ingredients, with the exception of the bacon, in a mixer bowl with the dough hook, until combined.
Prepare the loaf pans by lining, lengthwise, with three strips of bacon
Press half of the meatloaf mixture into each pan and lay the remaining strips of bacon lengthwise over the tops of the loaves.
Invert the pans onto a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.
Remove from oven and lift off the pans. Return to the oven to brown the outsides and remove when internal temperature is 130 to 135 degrees F. Let rest about 15-20 minutes, slice, and serve.
The published recipe does not include the fig jus, which really does add nice flavor. For the jus, I sautéed a large minced shallot in a little olive oil, and then added 1/4 cup chopped figs, 1 cup red wine and 1/2 cup port. I reduced this by about half, added 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, and reduced until slightly thick. I then added a tablespoon of cold butter and strained the jus. I sautéed some sliced shallots, until crispy, for garnish on top of the mashed potatoes.
Jim (head of the table) and Melinda arrived in town and joined us for dinner. Meatloaf is one of Jim's favorites and they both loved it! Melinda, really, cooking is fun!