25 March 2012

Roasted Red Pepper & Blue Cheese Mini Meatloafs

I absolutely love stinky blue cheese.  The smellier, creamier and bluer, the better.  And when I buy blue cheese, the hubs always wants a hamburger.  Beef and blue...the two make such a killer combo, it's almost impossible not to throw them together on a bun.  But once upon a time, I decided to try a different take on the partnership by making meatloaf.  Oh man, good idea.  Generally we make the standard bread pan so there's plenty for leftover sandwiches (soooo good) but we didn't have enough beef for a full recipe.  Hence, muffin tins for fun size meatloafs!  Plus, that way they're so perfectly portioned, and cute to boot.

Now when thinking of the typical meatloaf flavor profiles, I knew to steer clear from ketchup so that the blue cheese could remain the flavor star.  And though celery is a popular filler ingredient, we were plumb out.  What we did have an ample supply of were red peppers.  So I roasted one up in the oven (so easy!) and threw it in the meat mix.  You could also use store-bought peppers, but only if you promise that to try roasting your own sometime.  And I mean promise.

Most meatloaf recipes call for bread crumbs or cracker crumbs, but with 90% lean ground beef you need to be careful that your meatloaf doesn't get too dry (and doubly so with the mini loaves).  Therefore, I use sliced bread soaked in fat free milk to help keep help keep everything moist.  The peppers and blue cheese also help in this respect, lending their flavorful juices to the meat and providing a lovely subtle flavor profile that permeates every bite.  A softer blue or creamy gorgonzola will melt while the meatloaf bakes, combining with the juices from the beef for a wonderfully mild and even flavor profile.  A firmer blue will keep its shape, resulting in little nuggets riddled throughout the loaves.  If you prefer a stronger flavor, stick to a firmer cheese and vice versa.

The first time I made these I didn't write down the recipe....whoops.  Luckily the hubs is a master re-creator and knocked out a killer batch while I scribbled down instructions.  He also did something uber smart when he made them the second time around....he mixed the meat in the morning and let it sit throughout the day so the flavors could combine.  An excellent idea, one I would highly recommend both for the taste and the ease of making dinner after work.  Just divide between your muffin cups, pop in the oven and 25 minutes later it's dinner time.

Broiler Roasted Red Pepper

  • 1 red pepper 
  • paper bag or tupperware container

Turn your broiler onto high and move the rack up to the top third of the oven.  Wash a pepper and dry well, then place on a cookie sheet.  Place the pepper under the broiler, turning every 2-3 minutes, until the skin is charred and black on all sides.  It will start to smell WONDERFUL when it's getting close!

Remove from oven and place in the paper bag.  Fold the top over and let sit for about 10 minutes.  This traps in the steam, making them easier to peel, and also gives them time to cool enough to be handled.  Cut in half and remove the stem and seeds.  Peel off the charred skin and you have something wonderful!

Roasted Red Pepper & Blue Cheese Mini Meatloafs (3-4 servings)
  • 1 red pepper, roasted and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 c blue cheese
  • 2 slices wheat bread
  • 1/4 c fat free milk
  • 1/4 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 c diced shallots (or onion)
  • 2 tbs garlic 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place bread on a plate and pour milk oven the top, allowing them to soak up the milk until, flipping once, until very soft but not falling apart.  Squeeze the bread lightly to remove the excess milk, then place in a large bowl.  Set aside.

In a skillet over medium heat, add your olive oil and cook the shallot for about 4-5 minutes until soft.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds, then remove from heat so your garlic doesn't burn.  Allow to cool slightly while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.

Add beef, egg, Worcestershire and oregano to the bowl with the bread.  Season with salt & pepper to your preference.  Add your cooked onion, red peppers and blue cheese, then mix together with your hands (squish!) until well combined.  

Spray muffin tins with non-stick and add meatloaf.  You should get about 8-10 little meatloaf muffins.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, until meatloaf begins to pull away from the edges of the muffin tins and the juice starts to pool on the sides.  Serve with mashed potatoes or, my personal favorite, Blue Cheese Mashed Cauliflower, and some toasty bread.  Delicious dinner!  They pack up for lunch the next day ever so nicely as well.

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