You may not know that at The Greene Grape, we grind our own meat and use the same grass-fed beef and high quality pork, veal and lamb we feature in our butcher case. As our butcher says: “It’s a lot more work but it’s a better, safer product.”
Custom blends with different fat ratios are possible with advance notice or if the counter isn’t too busy. We did a custom blend of pork and beef for neighbor Alison C. so she could make her grandmother Erna Engel’s meatloaf. She was kind enough to provide us with the recipe (along with how to make meat patties and stuffed peppers), which also appears in the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church’s cookbook.
Meat Patties (Fleischlabeln) (makes about 20 small patties)
For 2 lbs meat: (ground beef (no less than 15% fat – I’d use Provisions ground chuck but round would work too) and/or dark meat ground turkey, or ground beef, pork and veal (1/3 each) or half and half ground pork and beef or beef and turkey. If you use meat with less fat (turkey or round) you may want to use a bit more bread and/or juice and/or up the spices and condiments (mustard and capers) a bit to boost flavor.
1 large yellow onion, diced
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons mustard
8 oz can tomato juice (or V-8)
2 tsp. small capers
1 ½ tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried parsley (or 4 tsp. fresh, finely chopped)
1 ½ tsp.dried marjoram
Fresh ground pepper (ten-fifteen turns of the grinder or to taste)
1 tsp. salt (or less, to taste)
1 or 2 eggs (use two if small or if you’re using ground turkey)
2-3 slices day old bread with crust removed (preferably rye) soaked in 1 cup water and then squeezed out
1-2 cups fine bread crumbs
1. Pour the olive oil in a large heavy skillet and add the onions, cook over low heat until soft but not browned
2. Meanwhile combine all of the other ingredients except the tomato juice in a large bowl, mixing well with your hands
3. Add the onions, let them cool a bit and mix them in; while the onions are cooling drain the excess oil from the pan and wipe it clean of any onion bits.
4. Then add the tomato juice to the meat mixture, a bit at a time until the mixture is quite loose, almost (but not quite) too loose to stick together
5. Spread a cup or so of bread crumbs on a large plate with a rim or small baking pan
6. Form mixture into a ball about 2-3 inches in diameter and then shape it into a flattened oval patty
7. Coat each patty in the bread crumbs on both side and place in the skillet. Add more bread crumbs to the pan or plate as necessary
8. Fry patties over medium heat, turning over so both sides brown.
9. Place cooked patties on paper towels to absorb excess fat
Patties can be eaten hot or cold and they freeze well.
NOTE : on bread crumbs: put fairly dry white or whole wheat bread in a blender or food processor and pulse until crumbs reach the desired texture.
The meat patties are more versatile, but you can also bake the mixture in a pan as meatloaf; a bit less hands on prep. Use a heavy standard loaf pan (glass or metal) or a meatloaf pan (a double loaf pan with holes in the bottom).
1. Prepare the meat patty recipe above through step 4 and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Put the mixture in the loaf pan, smooth the top, and brush on (or drizzle from a tube) about ¼ cup tomato paste
3. Bake in a 325 degree oven about ½ hr. until meat loaf pulls away from the sides of the pan and the top browns a bit. (If the meatloaf is cooked and the top hasn’t browned, turn the over setting to broil and put it under the broiler for a minute or two.)
4. If desired you can serve with a simple sauce: pour the drippings from the pan into a small saucepan, whisk in a tablespoon or two of flour to make a roux and cook, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken, then whisk in 1/2 a cup or so of beef broth (the amount of flour and broth depend on how much dripping you have, which, in turn depends on how much fat there was in the meat.)
5. Slice the meatloaf and serve with the sauce and/or a sprinkling of finely chopped fresh parsley
Prepare meat mixture as for Meat Patties (above to step 4) but add a bit more tomato juice; you can even use ground turkey breast or chicken for a mixture to stuff the peppers but add a couple of extra slices or bread and more juice to keep the mixture soft enough, and a bit more spice to boost the flavor.
Cut the tops off 8 peppers (more if small, less if very large), set the tops aside and remove the seeds and ribs ; you can use green, red or mixed colors of peppers; try to buy peppers which are squarish in shape and have flat bottoms.
Fill peppers with the meat mixture( if the mixture isn’t quite enough to fill your peppers you can add and mix in a another slice or two of soaked bread to the mixture), put the tops back on the peppers and place the peppers,, with a bit of space between them, in a large (6 qt or so) heavy pot or dutch oven or ovenproof casserole with a cover. (If you don’t have a large heavy pot or casserole with a cover, you can use a glass or ceramic baking dish and cover it with heavy duty foil or use a couple of smaller casseroles with a cover. In a pinch, you could use a foil baking dish placed on a cookie sheet and covered with heavy duty foil. If you do though, watch the liquid level and add more if it dries out a bit.) )
Add one large (16oz) can of whole tomatoes in juice (in a pinch you can use V-8 or tomato juice or diced tomatoes) to the pot or casserole.
Cover the pot or casserole and cook about ¾ hour (until the peppers are soft; it depends on the size of the peppers) on top of the stove or in a 325 degree oven.