Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bump and Grind

Polpettone Piccante in Camicia con Zucchini alle Erbe Aromatiche
Spicy Poached meat Loaf with Herb-Infused Zucchini

Ground meat can sometimes be a bit of a challenge- as versatile as it is, it does somehow end up becoming a burger or a meatloaf somehow. Well this is basically a cross between the two- but with a very different flavor and a very different cooking method! When was the last time you poached a burger or meatloaf? Oh- you haven't ever done that? Well then- let's see what we can do to change that...

I started out by chopping an equal-sized piece of pork tenderloin and a small piece of steak into small pieces and grinding it, together with the following ingredients in my trusty little kitchen wizard. I added a shallt, a clove of garlic, the juice of a lime, a tablespoon of Annato paste, a teaspoon of tomato paste, a half teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of dried oregano, a handful of mint and a handful of parsley, a good shot of Tabasco, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. That's a lot of herbs and spices there! But that's also a lot of great flavor that I am sure you are going to enjoy!

Make sure that the ingredients are well integrated and shape the meat into a roll. Place it on a sheet of Ceran-wrap and roll it tight, twisting the ends together and easing it into a nice compact shape. Now take this roll and wrap it again in the same way in aluminum foil... and you are already to get your little loaf poaching! Once you have brought your water to the boil, reduce it to a gentle simmer and set the roll in there and let it gently cook for 7-8 minutes. In the meantime- go grab that zucchini and get slicing!

The zucchini goes into a dry pan and should be heated gently at first. Sprinkle it with salt and flip it over and after a while, it will begin to give off a little moisture and to soften up. When this starts to happen, sprinkle it with Herbs de Provence, a hint of nutmeg and a dusting of pepper and turn up the heat. Now add a little oil to the pan and a couple of slices of garlic. By not having any oil in the pan at the beginning, we coaxe the natural flavors of the zucchini out without drowning them in oil- the oil we are adding now is basically to glaze and dress the zucchini, not to fry it in. The trick is to trick the zucchini into cooking in its own juices- which allows us to keep all of the flavor... It's petty easy!

The other thing that is easy is serving this up nicely! After the meat had cooked for 7-8 minutes on either side, I let it rest for 5 minutes or so, to let all of the juices settle and then cut it into 1" slices. Arrange these on a bed of the herb-infused zucchini and add a little shredded mint and lemon zest. A couple of cherry tomatoes and a little parsley round everything of nicely... and a couple of lightly buttered, steamed Fingerling potatoes would be a great accompaniment for this... as would a nice glass of Nero d'Avola! So that is what I recommend you go fix for yourself!

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