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Meat Loaf with Bourbon Sauce

Meat Loaf with Bourbon Sauce

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Serves 8 to 10.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from a restaurant recipe.

This recipe started out good enough, but I knew I could make it better. I ramped it up a little, with caramelized onions, nutmeg, and a bourbon reduction sauce. The end result exceeded expectations. For those who hate meat loaf: You might just love one—this one.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons pure olive oil for frying
1 large onion; diced
2 stalks celery; diced
3 green onions; diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley
1½ pounds (680g) ground beef
1½ pounds (680g) ground pork
(If you can find ground veal, you can use 1 pound (454g) each of the three meats.)
3 cloves garlic; minced or crushed with a garlic press
3 large eggs
11/3 cups (4 oz./113g) panko or regular bread crumbs
2/3 cup (158ml) milk or half-and-half
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups (475ml) stock (chicken or beef), preferably homemade
¼ to 1/3 cup (60 to 80ml) bourbon
6 cloves garlic; whole and peeled
3 to 4 tablespoons butter

Directions:

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until caramelized, regularly reducing the heat as the onions cook down. This should take about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Add the diced celery to the sauté pan and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Finely chop the green onions, thyme, and parsley. Set aside about a teaspoon of each for use in the sauce.

Combine the meats, onion, celery, remaining portions each of the green onion, thyme, and parsley. Add the minced garlic, eggs, and panko with the milk or half-and-half. Season with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well with your hands. As the bread crumbs absorb moisture the mixture will stiffen.

Heat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Shape the meat mixture into a loaf and place in an 10x13¾x2¼-inch (25x35x8cm) or equivalent baking pan. A small rack covered with foil can be placed beneath the meat loaf to raise it about any fat that might collect in the bottom of the pan.

Wrap the 6 whole cloves of garlic in baking parchment paper. Fold and staple to make a packet.

Bake the meat loaf 70 to 80 minutes, or to an internal temperature of 150 to 155°F (66 to 68°C). Place the garlic packet in the oven with the meat loaf, but remove after 30 minutes and set aside.

While the loaf is roasting, make the reduction sauce by heating the stock in a sauté pan until it comes to a boil. Mash the roasted garlic and add with the bourbon and butter. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is reduced by more than half and has slightly thickened. Finish the sauce by adding the reserved green onion, parsley, and thyme you set aside earlier.

Remove the meat loaf from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Slice and plate, garnishing with the reduction sauce. Can be served with mashed potatoes, also garnished with the reduction sauce, and any green vegetable.