Over the weekend, we got the yearly beefer delivery--1/4 of a
steer, or approximately 125 pounds. Some 25 or 30 pounds of
that is ground beef, which I *could* just turn into hamburgers or
chili. Or, I could hit the new cookbooks with my pal EYB! and
see what insights they have to offer.
Glazed Mini Meatloaf, from Serve
Yourself by Joe Yonan. The book may be called "Serve
Yourself", but in this case it's "Serve Yourselves" - 4 of
yourselves, each with your own meatloaf in a little ramekin. It's
both a miniature and a minimalist meatloaf - just a few filling
ingredients, the most exotic of which are salsa and mustard. But
you get to glaze them with grape jelly and hot pepper sauce! I can
just imagine making this - the kids would love having their own
little pots. But with just 1/4 pound of ground beef allotted
per mini meatloaf, I almost think I'd have to double it to "Serves
8" for my family of 4. Realistically speaking.
Old-Fashioned Spaghetti and Meatballs, from The
Cook's Illustrated Cookbook. I don't know if you've noticed
this, but Cook's Illustrated has a secret weapon. It's buttermilk.
Lots of their classic recipes get buttermilk subbed in for a
lighter, moister, tarter effect. The meatball recipe is no
exception. This recipe is so straight-ahead you don't even really
need to read it, and you don't need to break out the measuring
spoons (blasphemy!) Just use buttermilk instead of milk when
you soak the bread crumbs. It's all good.
Grilled Kefta with cilantro dressing and grapes
from Mourad: New
Moroccan Yeah, I have to confess--I love kefta, which are
basically meatballs on a stick (although you can skip the stick).
You can get the intense grill flavor of a hamburger,
but there's more opportunity to tamper with the seasoning, because
the meat doesn't need babying when you flip it. Mourad
tampers, and tampers again, with a dozen herbs and spices, a
complex green dressing which doesn't even say "optional" when it
gets to the xanthan gum, and exactly 54 grapes. Oh, and
you'll be julienning a whole lot of cucumber with that. I may adore
kefta, but I'd only do this as a stripped-down, approximate
version. The flavors look promising enough, but my knife and
I got things to do, places to go, people to see. We'll be out
of there in 45 minutes no matter what.
I was kind of looking forward to seeing what the molecular
gastronomists would do with ground beef. But the thing is -
they don't. The pricier the cuisine, the less likely it is to
use this humble staple. You might, perhaps, get something that
looks a little like ground beef, like beef tartare, which
you'll have to chop yourself from expensive sirloin.
No, ground beef is the makings of meatloaves and meatballs,
burgers and stuffed cabbages. It's not pretty, but it's dang
good eating. The only question here is, will 30 pounds be