We’ve had another grand adventure in manager markdown shopping today. It has led to the creation of a stuffed meatloaf of a flavor you may not expect.
Several pounds of lamb and chicken tenders, fresh herbs, and lovely veggies were all available at the grocery today, much to my surprise. Of course, it all came home with me. The plan for how to combine the ingredients started forming in the aisle and was ready to execute by the time I got home.
My partner in the kitchen and I set about to make something not just tasty, but rich and luscious for supper.
To start, 2 pounds of ground lamb were combined with a sprinkling of Herbes de Provence. This was flattened out across a square plate to form a nice base layer for our intended rolled loaf. The layer of lamb was lightly dusted with seasoned salt.
The fresh herbs were stripped off the stems, then roughly chopped to release the flavorful oils they contain for easier infusion into the meat. This mixture of rosemary, thyme, and sage was then sprinkled evenly across the giant lamb patty.
Next came the chicken tenders. These were laid out across the lamb and herbs to form a second layer of meat. This layer was smaller than the lamb layer to allow the lamb to seal around the chicken when rolled.
The meat was then carefully rolled into a loaf. Lamb is very tender and the loaf threatened to split, so it was left on the plate to cross the room to the crock pot. There it was gently tipped into place. A little more seasoned salt was sprinkled across the top.
The roasted garlic came out right about now. I pushed about a dozen cloves into the top of the loaf, having forgotten to add them to the inside. Talk about a happy accident.
We broke with our common practice of cooking with a wine this time. All we had on hand were some heavy reds, so we took a chance on something much sweeter. We reasoned that mint and lamb go well together, and honey is good with chicken, so we went with Ursa Major’s Mint Mead*. A quarter cup was drizzled across the meat.
Some lovely organic carrots were cleaned and laid in place to either side of our savory loaf. Fingerling potatoes were washed and added across the top of everything. We sealed it up and gave ourselves over to patience for a few hours.
Two hours later, my kitchen is an olfactory wonderland. The mead, meat, and herbs are hot and perfuming the air. If the smell is any indicator, we will eat well tonight. The cooking process continues…
The power went out for about an hour, but our plucky crock-pot stayed hot and kept right on cooking. At the six-hour mark, it was time for the unveiling. We didn’t even have to open the pot for the savory aroma to tickle our nostrils. Once it was open, the sweet steamed up to tease us a bit more. It was admittedly difficult to wait long enough to take the remaining photos before tasting this dish!
The loaf was firm and lifted out of the pot fairly easily. Cutting it was easily accomplished, the meat being quite tender. The potatoes on top came out a touch dry, but the carrots had cooked well down into the mead and juices, and were falling apart as they were lifted to a plate.
The top of the loaf, of course, took on the flavor of the roasted garlic most strongly, while the bottommost lamb absorbed the mead and offered a sweeter, lighter flavor. The chicken played up the fresh herbs delightfully, offering distinct flavors of rosemary and sage from bite to bite. Interestingly enough, it was the potatoes that attracted the thyme flavor.
I did not have to add any extra salt or pepper, though some palates may prefer some. A pat of butter on the meat and veggies, however, added a very nice scent and flavor touch.
All in all, this experiment is a smashing success. It may be a bit expensive for weekly rotation, but is well worth the trouble for special occasions. Depending on how you slice the loaf, it will handily serve anywhere from 4 trenchermen to 8 portion-concious individuals.
— Ann Cathey
*Ursa Major is a small homebrew project that takes up a large portion of my kitchen. The mead and beer produced are hand constructed by my partner in the kitchen, Christopher. For information on his project, please see Ursa Major Beverages on Facebook.