I Heart Meat Loaf!

Tonight I have to share with you a recipe that may give you the willies at first but believe me now and hear me later: this recipe is good!  And it is incredibly good for you!

The recipe is Spicy Meat Loaf from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, page 356.   What makes this recipe so scary?  It includes a half pound of ground beef heart.  Here is where you must trust me: you cannot taste it at all, nor can you tell a texture difference.

If you can’t taste it or feel it, then why eat it?  So many reasons!

Organ meats, which include beef heart but also include liver, kidney, sweetbreads (thymus gland), and brains, are absolutely loaded with nutrition.  Primitive traditional cultures found to be in near perfect health treasured organ meat because they knew it would make them strong.  In fact, they would eat these parts of the animal first and often throw out the parts modern people prefer today!   Science has proven that organ meats are rich in fat-soluble vitamins A and D, essential fatty acids, and much more.   Fat-soluble vitamins are critical because without them our bodies cannot use the other minerals we eat, even if we are eating them in abundance.  Vitamins A and D are a requirement for good health, and modern scientific studies are proving that we are not getting enough of either. Another important vitamin found in all animal products, but especially in heart meat, is Coenzyme Q10 (also known as CoQ10).  Every cell in the body requires CoQ10 in order to produce energy.

A hundred years ago recipes including organ meats were plentiful in cookbooks across the globe.  Today, modern dietary advice and scare tactics have caused these nutritious foods to be nearly eliminated from our diets.  This is to our great disadvantage, as, contrary to popular belief, these are real foods and they are good for us.  Has anyone noticed lately how sick so many people are?  And thought about how our diets today come primarily from boxes as opposed to the land?  I am convinced that those two thoughts are very closely related.

But I confess: I really don’t relish the idea of eating organ meats.  I’m guessing you don’t either.  We were not raised eating them – we were raised on fast food and mono-textured foods.  Therefore organ meats smell, look, taste, and feel disgusting to our modernized palates.  But there is good news!  Grinding these foods and adding them to other things makes consuming them possible for people like us!  And that is why I want to tell you about this wonderful meat loaf that I fed my family for dinner tonight.  And they had no clue they were eating beef heart.

The recipe (which I’ve included in full at the end) calls for 2 pounds ground beef and one half pound ground heart.  Helpful hint: thaw the ground beef yet keep the heart mostly frozen and grind or shred it in your food processor (or meat grinder attachment to a mixer).  If you let the heart thaw it will be much harder to grind or chop.  A side note: if you don’t have heart, you can also use liver.  I personally can taste the liver in the meatloaf, but the kids had no idea.  Also, I’m sure you could purchase heart at the butcher, but I bought a whole beef from a local farm and requested the heart and liver with my order.  The processor cut them each into half pound sizes for me per my special request.

This recipe also includes carrot, celery, and onion all finely chopped.  My family prefers their meat loaf without chunks, so I chopped all the veggies in the food processor as well.  Perfect texture.  Also, the recipe calls for bread crumbs.  Instead of buying bread crumbs that are loaded with preservatives, I freeze old heels, burnt rolls, etc. then just run them through the food processor – bread crumbs!  While you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients, mix the bread crumbs with a cup of cream (raw is best, but never use ultra-pasteurized cream) and let them soak while you sauté the veggies and spices in real butter.

Once you’ve got everything prepped, just mix it together in one big bowl.  You’ll add one whole egg to this.  Here is a picture of everything dumped into the bowl…it doesn’t look appetizing at all, does it?

You can see the bread crumbs and cream on the bottom, the really red meat on the other side is the heart, the ground beef is piled in the middle, and it’s all topped with the sautéed veggies.  Using your hands, just mix this all together really well, then shape it into a loaf in a 9×13 pyrex baking dish.

The one thing I do not like about this recipe is the sauce.  4 tablespoons of tomato paste or ketchup just doesn’t work for me.  It’s not enough, and it isn’t near sweet enough.  This is where I alter the recipe to suit my tastes.  I mix up the sauce for my mother’s meat loaf, which I grew up eating, and pour this over the top.  There is plenty to cover the meat loaf and the sides of the pan, so that when it’s cooked you can soak the sauce into each yummy slice.  The recipe is simple: 8 oz. tomato sauce, ¼ c sucanat, ¼ c honey, and 1 t mustard.

It will take 90 minutes for this to bake, so make it first and then clean up and prepare the sides.  The smell will draw the entire family to the kitchen, begging for dinner!  My sides were the veggies I picked up at a local produce stand this morning:  purple hull peas (boiled in water with bacon grease and onion slices), squash, and red potatoes (which I boiled, drained, and fork-mashed with plenty of cream and butter).

This meal was loaded with lots of those animal foods that carry fat-soluble vitamins A and D, and CoQ10.  Even the veggies had their share of animal fats added (cream and butter).  Because of this, everyone was very satisfied, their bodies are not using up all their energy digesting the meal (because it was easily digested), and our bodies are making excellent use of all that important nutrition.  This is really good news for me, because a precious baby is being knit inside me right now.  These foods will make my pregnancy safer for me at 42, and will also help my baby be healthier in the womb and beyond.

So back to the family.  They had no idea they were eating organ meat, but my son got a little suspicious when I kept asking if he liked it.

My four year old loved it.

She had seconds, then thirds.  And cleaned her plate!

My 12 year old loved it – this is plateful #2.

And even the one who doesn’t like meat loaf at all saved it for last then cleaned her plate and confessed that it wasn’t so bad after all.

When I returned to the dish and saw the meager leftovers, I couldn’t believe it.  After all, 2 ½ pounds of meat plus all those veggies should go pretty far!  Well, see for yourself – this won’t make another meal for our family.

It will have to go for some really tasty meat loaf sandwiches this week instead.  I’d say this was a success, wouldn’t you?

Now that you know how healthy and yummy organ meats can be, YOU can try this recipe.  Maybe YOU will “heart” meat loaf too!

Spicy Meat Loaf from Nourishing Traditions page 356

2 lb ground beef or other red meat

½ lb ground heart

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

4 Tablespoons butter

¼ teaspoon dried chile flakes (adjust to taste – omit for no spice)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon cracked pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ cups whole grain bread crumbs

1 cup cream

1 egg

1 Tablespoon fish sauce (optional – I omitted this)

1 Tablespoons tomato paste or naturally sweetened ketchup (I omit this and use my own sauce)

Saute’ onions, carrots, and celery in butter until soft.  Add chile flakes, thyme, pepper and salt and stir around.  Meanwhile, soak bread crumbs in cream.

Using your hands, mix meat with sautéed vegetables, soaked bread, egg and optional fish sauce.  Form into a loaf and set in 9×13 pyrex pan.  Ice with ketchup or tomato paste (or sauce).  Add 1 cup water to pan (no water is needed if you use my sauce recipe).  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 ½ hours.

I hope that you love this recipe so much that you will buy this wonderful cookbook.  You can buy a copy from Amazon via the Well Fed Family’s web store at www.wellfedfamily.net.  While you’re there, browse the site for more fabulous nutrition articles.  This month’s topic is feeding babies – in the womb and beyond.

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