Generally speaking, I am not a fan of Rachael Ray. I find her voice annoying, her ingredients sometimes questionable, and her end results unappetizing. I am not alone in this, of course, as this article shows. However, among the Tex-Mex Pasta dishes and the various incarnations of “Stoup”, there are a few rare gems. One of these is the recipe for Mini Meatloaves with gravy I’m about to describe.
Granted, meatloaf is hardly a gourmet concept to start with, and certainly Rachael Ray will not be the one to take it to that next level. Nevertheless, meatloaf is a comfort food standby for many people, my husband included. Every Christmas Eve, when RJ’s mom whips up a stylish Lobster Newburg for the family, she also makes a meatloaf for her two sons. Her version (RJ’s favorite) involves dry mustard, celery salt, and Worcestershire for flavoring, as well as a topping of barbecue sauce and bacon. It is very yummy and definitely satisfies the requirements of comfort food.
My mini meatloaves, however, are finished in far less time (haha – hence the “30 Minute Meals” origin), and I have jazzed them up a bit – a riff on Rachael Ray’s version, which you can find here (if you must – but don’t trust the disgusting picture – I promise they’re good!) .
Mini Meatloaves with Blue Cheese and Mushroom Gravy, adapted from Rachael Ray
1 ½ lbs. ground meatloaf mix (beef, veal, and pork – if your grocery doesn’t sell this or the makings of this, just use ground beef chuck)
1 large egg, beaten
¼ c. milk
½ c. bread crumbs (I used the Italian-flavored ones, but whatever you have is fine – use a bit more if you are using panko)
½ c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
4 to 6 big leaves of fresh sage, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma, pancetta or bacon
8 or so cremini (baby portobello) mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole milk (plus more if needed)
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Scant ¼ c. crumbled Gorgonzola (or more, by preference)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, beaten egg, milk, breadcrumbs, cheese, sage and pepper to taste. Try not to over mix, as this makes the loaves really dense and not as good. Form the mixture into four equally-sized loaves (like ovoid hamburgers) about 1 ½ inches thick.
Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Cook the loaves in the skillet just long enough to brown the outside – 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place them on an oiled or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Top the loaves with prosciutto (or pancetta or bacon) to cover in one layer. Bake for about 8 minutes.
While you’re waiting for the meatloaves to finish cooking, make the sauce. In the same skillet used to brown the meatloaves, add the mushrooms and the garlic (and a bit more olive oil if the pan is dry) and sauté over medium heat.
When mushrooms are browned to your liking (about 5 minutes for me), add a tablespoon of butter to the pan to melt. Once melted, add the tablespoon of flour and stir to combine. Let cook one minute, then add milk to the pan slowly, stirring constantly. Keep adding milk until you reach the desired consistency for gravy, or even a slight bit thinner. Add in the pinch of nutmeg and the blue cheese, stir to combine.
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