Beef · Main Courses · Pork

Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

The dish that was so popular in the 50’s & 60’s but something I rarely see anymore.

The list of ingredients is loooooong, but you probably have most of them sitting in your cupboard right now, just waiting to be put to work.

A food processor makes quick work of the chopping so it really isn’t as difficult or time consuming as your first glance may lead you to believe.

This will make one large meatloaf, or 8 individual ones.  I like the individual ones because you can customize them to match certain preferences and still make one meal for a group.   One of our guests didn’t like onions, so I  mixed everything else together and portioned out his serving before adding the onions.

The tomato gravy that goes with this is optional, but highly recommended.


2 lbs lean ground beef

1 lb regular ground pork

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1/4 teaspoon mace

3 cups fresh basil, leaves and tender stems loosely packed

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, loosely packed

1/4 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

8″ piece of baguette, crust removed, torn into chunks

6 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped

1 1/2 Tablespoons dried oregano

1 large onion, roughly chopped

3 large eggs, beaten well

1/2 cup red wine

1/4 cup water

1 cup tomato sauce, divided

Preheat oven to 375 and spray 8 individual loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.  Arrange on a cookie sheet and set aside.

Place pork and beef in large bowl.   Put the next 13 ingredients in bowl of a food processor and process until everything is finely chopped, stopping several times to scrape down sides of bowl.   (You may have to do this in 2 batches, depending on size of your processor. )

Add to beef and pork mixture along with the eggs, red wine, water and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce.  Mix gently until well combined.

Divide equally and place in prepared loaf pans.  Brush remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce over meatloaves and bake until thermometer inserted in centre registers 160F – 30 – 40 minutes.

Let stand 15 minutes before removing from pans and serving.

Tomato Gravy

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon canola oil

2 Tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups hot water

1 tomato boullion cube

1/4 cup tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons ketchup

Heat oil and butter in saucepan over medium heat,  Add flour, stirring to remove any lumps.  Continue to cook mixture over low heat until flour turns a light brown.  Dissolve the bullion cube in the hot water and slowly pour into the flour mixture, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.  Increase heat to high, bring to boil.   Reduce heat add tomato sauce and ketchup and simmer until thickened.   Serve over sliced meatloaf.

Main Courses · Pork

Pamplona de Puerco

What an impressive name this one has!  Really, it is  a stuffed pork tenderloin, but its Spanish name sounds so much more … well, MORE!

Though its name may be daunting, this dish is very simple to put together.   Once stuffed and tied, the pork will need to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours, overnight is better, so plan accordingly.

The trick, as with most meats lies in the cooking part.  That does take practice, and this is a great recipe to start with.  The fix for this if you happen to under-cook it is to slice according to instructions and place in a hot pan for a minute or two, until properly cooked thru.  Simple, and if you don’t panic, your guests will be none the wiser!  LOL

This recipe is from chef Jose Garces, via Tasting Table.  The only thing I did differently was to cut it in half because our butcher had only 2 tenderloins.  2 tenderloin will serve 3 – 4 people.

Pamplona de Puerco, Salsa Criolla, Chimichurri, Corn with Poblanos, Potatoes w/Dill                      and Sautéed Radishes



Pamplona de Puerco

2 pieces pork tenderloin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 ounces provolone cheese, cut into ¼-inch wide strips

1 roasted red peppers, cut into ¼-inch wide strips

2 Tablespoons thinly sliced green olives

2 tablespoons olive oil

Make the pamplona de puerco:

Place the meat flat on a work surface. Using a sharp knife, butterfly the meat along its long side. Continue cutting inward so that the meat unrolls like a carpet, until it reaches a ¼-inch thickness. It should measure around 9-inches by 4-inches. Season the pork liberally on both sides with salt and black pepper. Note: You can also ask your butcher to butterfly the meat for you.

With the wide side in front of you, on the bottom ⅓ of the tenderloin, place a few strips of the provolone cheese, red peppers and green olives.

Gently roll the pork tenderloin into a cylinder, making sure to keep the filling in the center. Using butcher’s twine, carefully tie the pork tenderloin in even intervals. Repeat with remaining tenderloin pieces. Place the tenderloin in the fridge, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

Remove the tenderloin from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling. Brush the tenderloin pieces with olive oil and place them on the hot side of the grill. Cook the meat, turning often, until it’s brown all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove it and place on the cool side of the grill, then cover and it allow the meat to cook until the internal temperature reaches 140°, about another 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pork from the grill and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Remove the butcher’s twine and slice carefully into ½-inch medallions. Arrange the meat on a platter and serve with the salsa criolla and chimichurri.



Main Courses · Pork

Pork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad

For me, this was a “way-out-there” dish, but I trust the source so I threw caution to the wind and served it, untried, to friends one evening.  It was a hit;  there were no leftovers.   This is basically unchanged from the original recipe I used.  Some things you just don’t need to mess with.

I did learn that you will need to scrape as much of the marinade off of the meat as you can before grilling so you get a better char on the meat, which is essential to this dish. My first attempt was more steamed meat than grilled.

You can shred the cantaloup for the salad ahead of time, but wait to toss with the rest of the ingredients until the pork comes off the grill.

Serves 4


Pork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad


For the Chops

8 thin cut (fast fry) pork chops

salt & pepper

1cup grated cantaloupe

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 Tablespoons peanut or canola oil

Toss all ingredients together in re-sealable plastic bag and massage well so meat is coated with cantaloupe mixture.  Chill one hour.

Prepare grill for medium – high heat.  Remove pork from marinade, scraping off as much cantaloupe as possible.  Grill, turning once, until browned and cooked thru, about  4 – 6 minutes.   Remove from heat and transfer to serving platter.

For the Salad

4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 red jalepeno, thinly sliced (your call as to how much you want to add)

2 cups grated cantaloupe

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

2 Tablespoons fish sauce

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice.

1/4 cup roughly chopped salted peanuts

Toss first 6 ingredients together and arrange over pork chops.  Top with chopped peanuts & serve.




Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bacon and Charred Tomato Fettuccine

There are several ways to char the tomatoes for this dish, or you can cheat and buy a 28 ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes from the supermarket!

Stove top – place whole tomatoes in a dry frying pan or on a comal over medium heat until skins blister and darken, turning to get as much char on each tomato as possible.

Oven – cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and place on sheet pan.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in 350 oven for about 40 minutes until charred and caramelized.

BBQ – rub whole tomatoes with oil and place directly on grill grates over medium heat, turning until charred on all sides and skin is starting to slip off.

This will serve 4 people.


Bacon and Charred Tomato Fettuccine


7 Roma tomatoes

2 Tablespoons olive oil (for charring in oven or on grill)

salt and pepper

1 lb bacon

500 grams fettuccine

1/2 cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving

fresh basil – for serving

Char tomatoes, place in bowl and when cool enough to handle, roughly chop and put back into bowl.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil and cook fettuccine according to package directions.

Meanwhile, chop bacon into roughly 1/2 inch pieces and fry, in large frying pan or pot, stirring frequently, until crispy.  Using slotted spoon, remove bacon from pan and place on paper towel to drain.  Pour out (and reserve) all but 4 tablespoons of bacon fat from pan.

When pasta is about 1 minute away from being fully cooked, drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to bacon fat in pan, and bring to simmer over medium heat.  Add fettuccine, using tongs to toss pasta and coat all strands with the bacon fat.  You can add some of the bacon fat you drained off or additional pasta water at this point if pasta looks dry.  Add the tomatoes and any juices in the bowl and continue cook, tossing lightly for 1 minute.

Remove from heat, sprinkle Parmesan and toss again to combine.

Divide mixture among 4 bowls, garnish with fresh basil leaves.  Serve with additional Parmesan.

How To... · Main Courses · Pork

Brined Pork Chops

A nice juicy pork chop is such a treat, but getting it done to that juicy stage of perfection can be difficult.   Left on the heat even a moment too long results in a dry tasteless piece of meat.  Not the dinner you were looking forward to.

Marinating your chops overnight in a light brine can fix that.  the basic brine is water, salt and sugar.  You can use just that, or start experimenting with the flavours by adding spices.  Bay leaves, mustard seeds, black pepper, chili peppers, junior berries, herbs, garlic, onions… or just leave it plain.  Whatever strikes your fancy.

This marinade will work for all cuts of pork, and chicken as well.

You can marinate for as little as 4 hours if you are pressed for time, but I prefer a full 24 hours.  Remove from the brine, pat dry and grill or pan fry as usual.   You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference a little time in brine can make.

This brine is for 2 – 4 chops, but you can easily double it.


Brined Pork Chops

3 cups water

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons (packed) brown sugar

1 Tablespoon kosher salt


Optional add-ins such as those listed below, but limited only by your imagination

1 clove garlic 

1 sprig fresh rosemary or thyme

black peppercorns

juniper berries

allspice berries

mustard seeds

Stir everything together until sugar and salt are dissolved.

Place pork chops in re-sealable plastic bag large enough to comfortably hold all the chops.  Toss in any herbs or spices you choose to use.

Carefully pour brine into bag.  Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag and seal closed.  Massage a little to be sure the liquid has reached all parts of the pork.

Put the bag in a bowl large enough to hold any leaks that may occur and refrigerate overnight.

Remove chops from the brine, pat dry and grill or pan fry as usual.


Beef · Main Courses · Pork

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

Oh, just try them.  You will like them.  Even though we are using Chipotle, the level of heat is very low.  For those not familiar with Mexican flavours, this is a good introduction.

I’ve taken these to pot lucks and returned home with an empty dish every time.

If you cant find dried chipotle, you can sub canned chipotle in adobo and skip the soaking step.

Albondigas, White Rice and Corn with Poblanos

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

For the meatballs

8oz ground pork

8 oz lean ground beef

1 onion, minced

1 cup fresh white bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

Oil for frying

For the sauce

1 chipotle chili, seeds and stem removed

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3/4 cup beef stock

14 oz can chopped tomatoes

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

Make the Meatballs

Combine the first 10 ingredients (everything but the oil). Mix together well then roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Place in single layer on baking sheet and chill while you prepare the sauce.

Make the Sauce

If using dried Chipotle Chili:  Soak the dried chilli in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon canola oil in saucepan over medium heat, and fry the the onion and garlic 5 – 6 minutes until onion is soft.  Remove chili from soaking liquid, reserving the soaking liquid.

Chop the chili and add to onions and garlic.  If using chipotles in adobo, fish at least one or maybe 2 chilis out of the adobo sauce, roughly chop them and add to the onion/garlic mixture.

Cook for 1 minute, stirring.

Increase heat to high, Add beef stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and soaking liquid.   Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer partially covered, while you cook the meatballs.

Cook the Meatballs

Heat oil in frying pan and fry meatballs in batches, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.  They will not necessarily be cooked thru and this is okay.  You just want to get a sear and some colour on them right now.

As you remove the meatballs from the frying pan, transfer directly to the sauce in the pot.  Once all meatballs have been fried, continue to simmer in sauce, stirring every once in a while, for about 10 minutes to cook meatballs thru.  Be gentle!  Stir too roughly and you will break up all those meatballs you just worked so hard to make!

Serve with plain white rice on the side.





Main Courses · Pork · Soups and Stews

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

What can I say, flavours from this part of the world fascinate us!

Considering how quickly this dish comes together, we were surprised at how much flavour it has.  It is a great weeknight dish.

If you have pickled ginger on hand, be sure to include it.  It adds a nice spark of flavour to the finished dish.

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger (be sure to peel it before mincing)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 red onion, finely diced, divided

1 lb lean ground pork

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon Sambal Olek** (or to taste)

salt & pepper

1 cup water

4 cups chicken stock or broth

1 bunch fresh spinach, tough stems removed and leaves chopped or torn

6 oz rice noodles


1/4 cup finely chopped pickled ginger (optional)

chopped salted peanuts

fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add the fresh ginger, garlic and all but 2 Tablespoons red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the ground pork, turmeric, chili-garlic sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper.  Cook the meat, breaking up most of the lumps, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup water, the chicken broth and spinach (the pot will be very full, but the spinach will wilt quickly). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the broth has reduced slightly and the spinach is tender, about  minutes. Taste and season with more salt & pepper if needed.

Meanwhile, in separate pot, cook rice noodles according to package directions, stirring to separate the noodles.   Drain noodles well, shake dry and divide among 4 bowls.

Ladle pork-broth mixture over noodles.  Top with peanuts, cilantro, pickled ginger and the reserved red onion.

Serves 4


** COOKS NOTES :   Sambal Olek- a chili garlic paste found in most supermarkets