Thirty-something years into their marriage, my mom is in the midst of a thirty-something year mission to make my dad like healthy food. He's become suspicious over the years of anything from "a green package" as he calls the the lightened versions of cheese, sour cream, and convenience foods. He's not shy about proclaiming when things "taste like sawdust" or "have no flavor" when he thinks someone has tricked him into eating low-fat food. My mom is a great cook, though, so he gets tricked a lot and doesn't even know it.
This recipe is an example. He called one Sunday and was raving about this meatloaf my mom had made. It was so moist and flavorful, he said, and had corn and bell peppers and a great tasting crust. While he was extolling the virtues of the meatloaf I wondered how on earth it got made because meatloaf is usually "heartier" than the dinners my mom tends to make. When I had her on the phone alone she explained the mystery to me: it was a lower fat meatloaf. It used very lean beef, and cooked on a cooling rack so the extra fat could drip away instead of sitting at the bottom of the loaf pan along with the meatloaf.
The method sounded ingenious to me, as well as the inclusion of Southwestern flavors to give it another great twist. I tried it the next week and found it to be every bit as good as my dad had said. Since it makes a lot of meatloaf for two people, I also learned that the leftovers taste great too, whether plain, or mixed with steamed rice or even crumbled on top of tortilla chips and broiled with cheese on top. (I'm fairly certain it wasn't low fat at that point.) In all, it changed the way I thought about meatloaf.
Tricked or not, my dad was right. This is a darn good meatloaf.
Santa Fe Meatloaf
2 large eggs
6 T low-sodium chicken broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T tomato paste
2 tsp fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper
2 slices high-quality whole-wheat sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed
2 pounds 95 percent lean ground beef
4 scallions, minced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine
1 cup shredded light cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Fold a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil into a 10 by 6-inch rectangle, place in the center of a wire rack, and place the rack on a baking sheet. Use a skewer to poke holes in the foil every 1/2 inch. Spray the foil with vegetable oil spray.
2. Whisk the eggs, broth, garlic, tomato paste, oregano, chili powder, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper together in a large bowl. Add the bread and mash together with a rubber spatula until the mixture is uniform.
3. In a separate bowl, thoroughly mash the black beans with a potato masher until no beans are left whole. (Do this thoroughly or the meatloaf won't hold together well.) Add the mashed beans, ground beef, scallions, corn, bell pepper, cheddar, and 2 T of the cilantro to the broth-bread mixture and combine with your hands until uniform.
4. Press the mixture together into a compact mass, then turn it out onto the prepared foil on the wire rack. Press the meat to the edges of the foil into a tidy 1 1/2 inch-thick loaf.
5. Brush half of the barbecue sauce over the meatloaf. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes.
6. Brush with the remaining glaze and continue to bake until the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (The recipe claims this will take an additional 15-25 minutes. For both my mom and me, this took an additional 45-55 minutes.) Let the meatloaf cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 2 T cilantro over the top before serving.
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated Healthy Family Cookbook