Frank Goodness for Meatloaf

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And on every shelf.

“Let’s say you fall in love with a vegetarian,” it begins.  When it comes to Michael Schwartz, a no more fitting recipe introduction could be conceived for a meatloaf book if you ask Frank Bruni.  The request came in something like this, in spring of ’15.

I write with what I hope is a small and not-too-bothersome request and maybe even falls into the realm of fun invitation. I’m wondering if you have a meatloaf recipe of your own… that you’d be willing to add to the book. It could be red meat, poultry, a fish loaf, even a meatLESS loaf. If it’s from you, it’s a triumph.

Thus began the journey of the Kasha Loaf now on pages 167-171, nuzzled between Zucchini and Borlotti, with words of encouragement spun so convincingly success is inevitable, the silver tongue few others than Mr. Bruni can conjure.  And there is so much more prose to charm on these pages thanks to what mutual feelings on the subject inspired with collaborator, friend and New York Times colleague Jennifer Steinhauer.  Their love letter to an iconic dish close to their hearts, A Meatloaf in Every Oven, is now out as of February 7 in hard cover (Grand Central Life & Style/Hachette), a comfortable clutch-able ode to this familiar comfort food with illustrations by Marilyn Pollack Naron that say, “It’s ok, you can do this. It’s going to be fun, and you’ll learn something Mom would want you to know while you’re at it.”  We are salivating to fan the pages like a globe and point.  Enjoy where Michael landed below and snatch your copy ASAP from your neighborhood bookseller.  We called Books & Books in Coral Gables this morning, and they have a couple in stock. Perfect.

Kasha Loaf

Testing in Michael’s home kitchen a couple of years ago, now realized for your own.

Michael Schwartz’s Kasha Loaf with Caramelized Onion Gravy

Serves 8

1 ½ cup kasha (coarse granulation)
4 large eggs
3 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups minced white onions
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 pound cremini mushrooms, washed, stems removed and pulsed 10x in food processor
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound spinach, blanched, cooled, squeezed and finely chopped (you may substitute frozen, well squeezed)
3/4 cup ricotta
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Caramelized Onion Gravy (recipe below)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
2. To make the kasha, start by adding the vegetable stock, butter, salt and pepper to a pot and bring it to a boil. As the liquid is heating, lightly beat one of the eggs and add to the kasha in a medium sized bowl, stirring to coat the kernels. In a large skillet over high heat, toast the egg-coated kasha, stirring often for 2-3 minutes. Pour into the boiling stock and reduce flame to low. Stir kasha and cover. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the kasha is tender. Let sit for 10 minutes covered, then transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
3. To make the loaf, place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a deep golden brown and caramelized, roughly 20 minutes.
4. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the onions and sauté for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring regularly. Add tomato paste, thyme, Worcestershire and soy sauce and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from heat. When the mixture has slightly cooled, add to the kasha along with spinach, ricotta and Parmesan. Lightly beat the three remaining eggs and add to the bowl. Mix thoroughly and adjust for seasoning.
5. Turn into a non stick loaf pan and pack down using a spatula and by lightly tapping the pan on the table. Bake for 1 hour, until the loaf is brown on top and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes before turning out. Slice and serve with Caramelized Onion Gravy and a bitter greens salad

Caramelized Onion Gravy
makes 3 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups minced onion
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable stock

1. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil and butter.
2. When the butter has melted, add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a deep golden brown and caramelized, roughly 20 minutes. Add flour and stir for 1 minute. Add the stock and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes.
3. Purée the mixture and season to taste.