Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bean and Beef Meatloaf with Chili Sauce and Corn Milk-Cilantro Sauce

Here, I take chili beans - a traditional American comfort food - and morph them into a spicy, sweet, and hearty meatloaf - yet another traditional American comfort food. The loaf start sweet, but the sparing use of cayenne and jalapeno in the sauce give the loaf a little burn that lasts after you've eaten your last bite. It makes you feel warm all over your body; great for a chilly or rainy day.

The thin sauce on the left is the corn milk-cilantro sauce. You can't tell because of the terrible photo quality, but the corn milk sauce is sunny yellow with flecks of green. The thicker, deep red sauce on the right is the chili sauce. The corn milk sauce is sweet, mild, and subtle, while the chili sauce is big and bold. Try not to mix them together too much, because the chili sauce will overpower the corn milk sauce. I've garnished the plate with three beautiful avocado spears, which pair wonderfully with the loaf and the sauces.

Please note: This loaf tastes wonderful without sauce. It's fall-apart moist and very flavorful on its own. I love the complexity of flavor that sauces impart, but if you're in a hurry or if you just don't like making sauces, feel free to omit them!

Ingredients for Bean and Beef Loaf
1.5 lbs. lean ground beef - I used 96/4, but 93/7 will work just fine
225 grams of finely diced red onion (about 1 large or 1.5 medium onions)
44 grams of chopped fresh parsley (about 1 small bunch or 3/4 cup)
132 grams of finely diced red bell pepper with seeds and ribs removed (about 1 large pepper)
1 can of pinto beans, rinsed and preferably organic
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. yellow mustard
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, reduced sodium if available
1/4 cup Liquid Smoke
1 can diced no salt added tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1.5 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tbsp. ground sage
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup egg substitute (I used Publix EggStirs)

Ingredients for Corn Milk-Cilantro Sauce
1 can of corn kernels
1 bunch of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Chili Sauce
1/2 can no salt added diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Nature Sweet Brown sugar replacement (made of maltitol, a sugar alcohol)
3 poblano chilis, roughly chopped with seeds and ribs removed
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. instant coffee (I used decaf)
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 cup roughly diced onion
2 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped with seeds and ribs removed

Directions for Loaf
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all of the loaf ingredients, in no particular order. Shape the mixture by pressing it into a large loaf pan. Bake the loaf for about 1 hour or until the loaf is nicely browned on the outside. Serve with both sauces.

Makes 17 servings.

Directions for Corn Milk-Cilantro Sauce
Puree the corn in your food processor to turn it into a corn pulp. Strain the corn pulp through a fine sieve until you're left with just the juice, or milk, from the corn. Bring the corn milk to a boil in a saucepot and reduce it about 1/3 to 1/2, or until the watery consistency becomes more of a milky consistency. It will still be a very liquid, thin sauce, but you are just aiming to make it less thin. After the corn milk has reduced, remove it from the heat. Add salt (about 1/2 tsp. should work) and a sprinkle or two of black pepper. Add finely chopped cilantro. Serve.

Directions for Chili Sauce
Combine all of the ingredients into a saucepot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the sauce about 1/3, until the sauce becomes more opaque. You can serve the sauce with the chunks (in which case you might want to finely dice all of the ingredients), or you can put all of the chunks into your food processor to create a puree. Add the puree back into the saucepot, mix it back into the liquid, simmer for 3-5 more minutes, and remove from the heat to serve.

Nutritional Information
Loaf: With 96/4 extra lean ground beef, the loaf is 93 calories, 10.8 grams of protein, and 6 grams of net carbs. With 93/7 lean ground beef, the loaf is 107 calories, 10.5g grams of protein, and 6 grams of net carbs.

Corn Milk-Cilantro Sauce: This is a rough estimate because it's hard to get a calorie count on just the corn juice, but my educated guess is that 1/17 of the recipe is 5 calories, 0 grams of protein, and 0.5 grams of net carbs.

Chili Sauce: 1/17 of the recipe is 15.4 calories, 0.5 grams of protein, and 2g net carbs.

As noted above, I paired my loaf with a few slices of fresh avocado, and if I had citrus I would have squeezed a lime on top of the loaf. You could also serve this with guacamole, and sour cream or a little nonfat Fage Greek yogurt would be great to cool your palate from the slight heat. An additional cooling agent that would add lots of flavor is grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, or you could even use a little queso fresco. You might also top this with a little chopped raw scallion, but make sure not to overdo it because there are plenty of onions in the loaf and sauce already.

For sides, you might try a nice crisp cole slaw, or soul food-style mustard greens or collard greens. You could even do a light Romaine or even iceberg salad dressed with lime or lemon juice, just for the contrast between the warmth and spiciness of the loaf and the cool crispness of the salad.

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