I wanted to use some of my garden basil, and while looking for recipes of Mexican dishes with basil on the ingredient list, it was not surprising to find one from the state of Baja California, where basil is grown, thriving along with crops of olives and grapes. This is a very tasty recipe for meatloaf, which I moulded in the shape of a ring; topped with sautéed onions and herbs, it looks elaborate, but it is very easy to prepare.
Baja California Style Meatloaf (Moulded Beef) –
Albondigón estilo Baja California (Carne moldeada)
Ingredients (for four portions)
1 lb (454 g) lean ground beef
1 large white onion; peeled, top and root ends removed
1 bunch fresh basil; washed
3 sprigs parsley plus a few leaves for garnish; washed
2 slices bread; preferably one or two days old, broken into small pieces
¼ cup water
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp salt, or to taste
¼ tsp black pepper, or to taste
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp oil
I started with freshly picked Genovese (green) and Rosie Red Rubi (purple) sweet basils and flat parsley, from my garden:
Save one or two leaf clusters of parsley for garnish, then pick leaves from sprigs; discard stems. Chop leaves and reserve; there should be a few nice leaves for garnish, and about two to three tablespoons of chopped parsley.
Remove and discard tough stems from basil. Purple basil turns too dark when cooked, so if using, reserve the prettiest leaves for garnish, then pile the rest and slice finely into ribbons (chiffonade); set aside. Pile green basil leaves and slice finely; measure one or two tablespoons and mix with the sliced purple basil, and reserve the rest. There should be about one quarter of a cup of green basil chiffonade (for mixing in with the meat), another quarter of a cup of the mixed chiffonade (to add at the end), and a few pretty leaves (for garnish); set aside.
Cut onion into halves; slice finely into half-circles. Take the smallest slices and chop finely, to measure half a cup; reserve the rest of the slices.
The photo below shows all the prepped ingredients, counter-clockwise from bottom right: chopped parsley, mixed basil chiffonade, parsley and basil leaves for garnish, green basil chiffonade, finely chopped onions, and finely sliced onions:
Note: if using green basil only, reserve a few leaves for garnish, then slice the rest into thin ribbons, and divide in half (one half to mix in with the meat, the other to add at the end).
Place crumbled bread in a mixing bowl; pour water over bread. Make an opening in the centre of the bowl, and add egg, tomato paste, salt and pepper (photo below, left). Beat egg with a fork, then incorporate all the ingredients in the bowl (photo below, right):
Once a more or less uniform paste is formed, add green basil chiffonade, chopped onions, and ground beef, to the bowl (photo below, left). Mix all together to form the paste for the loaf (photo below, right):
Transfer meat to a baking tray with rim (there was adequate space in my 8×8″ Pyrex™ mould); form into a ring (photo below, left). Bake in the oven at 350ºF (180ºC) until the internal temperature is at least 150ºF (66 ºC); for this size meatloaf in the ring shape it took thirty minutes (photo below, right):
Allow to rest, covered loosely with foil for ten minutes; the juices will redistribute and the internal temperature should rise to around 160 ºF (70 ºC). Note: if a food thermometer is not available, after the resting interlude, simply cut through the ring’s cross section and slightly open it to check that the meat is no longer pink inside. Close back the ring; once finished in the next step, the cut will not be visible.
While the meatloaf is resting, warm up butter and oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat (photo below, left). Add sliced onions and sauté until translucent, about five minutes, then continue cooking, stirring, as the onions start caramelizing and changing colour rather rapidly. Just when they are changing colour, add the rest of the basil chiffonade (photo below, right):
Stir to incorporate the basil, and promptly remove from heat. Season with salt, to taste (I did not add any). Transfer meatloaf ring onto a serving plate, then cover with onions from the pan. Sprinkle with parsley and decorate with reserved leaves:
It looks so elegant and delicious, and the scent of sautéed onions and herbs is delightful. Serve with a side of fresh vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes and avocado slices, and a lime wedge to sprinkle over the veggies. A nice pairing could be a Baja California red wine (LCBO in Ontario, Canada presently carries L.A. Cetto Cabernet Sauvignon, for example):
I am joining Thursday Favourite Things #452 with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.
I am also sharing this recipe at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up #266 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome. Thank you so much to Helen for featuring my Sinaloa Style Chicken II – In a Charcoal Grill at this party.