Fall is time for comfort food. So it’s time to pull out recipes such as meat loaf. However, this year try something a bit different. When I’m looking for a dish with a twist I turn to award winning chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand’s American Brasserie Cook Book (Simon & Schuster Macmillan, NY, New York, 1997).
It came out after Tramonto and Gand opened up Brasserie T in Northbrook as their casual restaurant with a French and Italian vibe. The chefs had first wowed dining patrons at their high-end Trio in Evanston. They later garnered several awards at Tru in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood which they opened with restaurateur Rich Melman in 1990.
(Ed note: The tomato-basil sauce recipe is in the book with a pasta dish but also listed here)
Individual veal meat loaves with tomato-basil sauce
3 Tbs olive oil
1/4 c diced carrots
¼ c diced celery
¼ c chopped onion
½ c sliced button mushrooms (about ¼ inch thick)
1 ½ tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp soy sauce
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
½ c seasoned breadcrumbs
1 ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 ½ lbs ground veal
2 cups quick tomato basil sauce (see below)
Grated Parmesan cheese and parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 350
In large skillet heat 1 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.
Add carrot, celery and onions and cook until softened but still firm and not browned. Spread vegetables out on baking sheet to cool.
Put skillet back on stove to heat 1 tablespoon of oil, again over medium heat, and add mushrooms and ginger. Sauté until mushrooms release their juices (about 3-4 minutes).
Add soy sauce and cook about 2 more minutes until liquid has evaporated . Turn out onto baking sheet to cool about 15 minutes.
In bowl, combine vegetables with eggs and egg white, breadcrumbs, Worchester sauce, salt, pepper and ground veal. Use hands to mix. Don’t over mix.
Form veal mixture into oval loaves about 4 inches across and 2 inches thick that are flat on bottom but curved on top.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it with olive oil.
Arrange loaves on sheet and bake 45 min. Don’t overcook. Loaves should be crusty on top but pinkish inside.
To serve: Slice each loaf into 4-5 pieces Heat tomato-basil sauce (see recipe below). Mound a large spoonful of mashed potatoes (the book also has a pesto mashed potato recipe) in center of plate, Lean slices of meat loaf on it and spoon tomato-basil sauce around edge of plate (not on veal loaves). sprinkle with parsley and cheese.
Tomato -Basil Sauce
1 Tbs plus 2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure olive oil
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs. Extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 28 oz can best quality Italian plum tomatoes or one 32 oz box crushed Pomi tomatoes.
1 lb ripe plum tomatoes seeded and coarsely chopped
¼ cup finely shredded fresh basil
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in large saucepan over med high heat.
Add onion , garlic and red pepper flakes, Sauté until softened, about 3 t0 4 minutes.
Add canned and fresh tomatoes with their liquid and crush the canned ones with wooden spoon.
Add half the basil and remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Bring to a boil, cook stirring frequently until sauce begins to thicken and reduce (about 15 min.
Sauce can be made a couple of days ahead.)