Goat Meatloaf; Root Vegetable GratinAnother day, another meatloaf. Why did I agree to this one? The “Lamb Meatloaf with Shiitakes, Currants & Caramelized Onions,” from Three Many Cooks, wooed me with its inclusion of Camille-friendly ingredients: shiitakes, Dijon mustard, tomato paste, smoked paprika, red wine, currants. And the recipe asks for a mix of lamb and beef. I halved the recipe in order to make a single meatloaf. I was truly resourceful when, instead of lamb, I used ground goat. That’s right, folks. I found it in the meat case at my food coop and made sure to buy it.

This meatloaf includes many prep steps before you bake it. You need to sauté the onion. You need to sauté the mushrooms. You need to cook the garlic with the sauce and the wine reduction. You need to assemble the breadcrumb and milk combo (which served its purpose as a cement to glue the loaf together). See what I mean? These somewhat exhausting exercises seem counter-intuitive to the “meatloaf” concept for me, where I can just throw everything together in a pan and forget about it.

Typo in the recipe: it doesn’t tell you the oven temperature! Meatloaves, as we may already know, bake fine in the 350- to 400-degree F range. So I baked this one for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F (to match with the other recipe below that I baked in my oven). OK.

And the payoff? Such a rich, meaty flavor, with the mushrooms, red wine, goat, and currants. The red pepper flakes gave us a kick of spice. The currants gave us sweetness. This was intense and this was devoured by my audience.

After that work-intensive meatloaf, I switched to a different level of “work” for the “Root Vegetable Gratin,” from the March/April 2015 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (recipe below). My efforts, here, were exerted with my mandoline, slicing the trio of potatoes, celery root, and rutabaga into fantastically equal, 1/8-inch slices.

Root Vegetable Gratin
Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2015
Serves 6 to 8

1 Tbsp. plus 1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 1/4 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
2 lbs. large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise 1/8 inch thick
1 large celery root (1 lb.), peeled, quartered, and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 lb. rutabaga, peeled, quartered, and sliced 1/8 inch thick
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Whisk 1 Tbsp. water, mustard, flour, and 1 1/2 tsp. salt in medium bowl until smooth. Add wine, cream, and remaining 1 1/2 cups water; whisk to combine. Combine onion, thyme, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in second bowl.

Layer half of potatoes in prepared dish, arranging so they form even thickness. Sprinkle half of onion mixture evenly over potatoes. Arrange celery root and rutabaga slices in even layer over onions. Sprinkle remaining onion mixture over celery root and rutabaga. Layer remaining potatoes over onions. Slowly pour water mixture over vegetables. Using rubber spatula, gently press down on vegetables to create even, compact layer. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until knife inserted into center of gratin meets no resistance, 20 to 25 minutes longer.

While gratin bakes, combine panko, Parmesan, and butter in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove gratin from oven and sprinkle evenly with panko mixture. Continue to bake until panko is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove gratin from oven and let stand for 25 minutes. Serve.

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The mise en place involves no “pre-cooking,” which is a relief. Like I said, it’s all mandoline work. I was confident when I sliced my potatoes, because they were easy. The celery root required a bit more exertion -- it’s tough. And the rutabaga was somewhere in between those two. I enjoyed layering all these raw elements, as the recipe instructs.

The final texture of the gratin, after a long stretch of baking, was indeed perfect: not mushy. In fact, it almost tasted creamy, and retained the distinct individual flavors of the potato and the celery root and the rutabaga. The crispy panko topping made me smile. This is a nice, worthwhile effort. The leftovers were perfect, too.

PRICES:
Shiitake Mushrooms (1/4 lb.) = $1.94
Ground Goat (8 oz.) = $5.52
Onion (1) = .45¢
Yukon Gold Potatoes (2 lbs.) = $2.08
Celery Root (1 lb.) = $2.49
Rutabaga (1 lb.) = $1.26

PREP TIMES: meatloaf prep and baking needs at least 90 minutes; the gratin’s prep and baking needs at least two hours
TASTES:
shiitakes, red wine, goat, and currants make a rich and meaty loaf; perfectly sliced potatoes, celery root, and rutabaga make creamy layers

I’m ready for cookies. Next time, I’ll bake the “Cherry-White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies,” from Bake or Break, as well as the “Coconut Macaroons,” from the April/May 2015 issue of Fine Cooking. Come back to my site next week, to enjoy these with me.