Day Twenty Nine: Wild Mushroom Pork Meatloaf

30 Apr
I love meatloaf. It is such a comforting and versatile dish – you can go with Greek flavors, Italian flavors, Asian flavors, and you can use a mix of meats or just one. Meatloaf is one of those things that, if you have any ground meat in the fridge, you can throw together with almost anything you’ve got laying around.
Another thing I love? Wild mushrooms. So naturally, I threw these two loves together. It isn’t any amazing combination that I can be credited for, obviously – roasted mushrooms and meatloaf have been paired together forever.
This meatloaf turned out great. It was so incredibly moist, and just full of great flavors. The fresh herbs brightened the meat up and complemented the woodsyness of the mushrooms. Christian said that this is now, to date, at the top of his list. I was shocked that this edged out the Milk Braised Pork, his previous favorite. For me, this is a very close second to the greens stuffed shoulder I made last month (my top dish so far).
I ended up trimming nearly 99 percent of the fat off the shoulder piece I had. By cooking the meatloaf in a loaf pan, as opposed to a free form meatloaf on a baking pan, the fat and juices stay in and don’t dry out the dish. Additionally, the milk soaked bread further ensures no drying out. While a well known trick, it was something I learned from my Mom and Grandma’s meatballs. Anyway, back to the fat point – I just didn’t feel the need for a fatty, greasy meatloaf. In fact, it kind of grosses me out to see that sometimes. This particular meatloaf is so juicy, even without all the fat, and so moist. While one of the greatest things about pork shoulder is the fat content and the fact that it can produce such tender meat, it isn’t always necessary. I think it is a misconception that anything with pork shoulder is going to be over the top fatty and bad for you – if you can control how you use it, you can make it as lean as you want.
The sauce that I made for this was a great accompaniment to the pork-based meatloaf. Dijon and balsamic are great pairings with pork, and this sauce just made the meatloaf feel a bit more elegant. Not the typical ketchup topping (which I never liked anyway). It added another dimension and really finished it off nicely – a bit tangy from the Dijon, with the right amount of sweetness from the reduced balsamic and maple syrup. Rather than a sauce, you could also use this as a glaze while the meatloaf is cooking. From a presentation standpoint, the sauce application adds a little something – otherwise, it is pretty monochromatic (maybe the one downside of this dish).
Served along side roasted fingerling potatoes and roasted green beans, this was a nice update on a classic. Super comforting for what I’m hoping was the last snowy, gray, dismal day until the cycle starts all over again towards the end of the year.
And as is the case with all meatloaf, this was fantastic as lunch the next day.

Wild Mushroom Pork Meatloaf

For Meatloaf:
  • 2 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed of most fat and ground
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices of bread (gluten-free or regular), cut into cubes
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
For Mushroom Filling:
  • 6 to 8 oz mixed, fresh wild mushrooms (oyster, cremini, chanterelle, etc)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tsp olive oil
For Sauce:
  • 1/4 c chicken stock
  • 1/4 c white wine
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Soak the bread cubes in milk for 10 minutes; squeeze out excess milk and set bread aside.
In a small saute pan, heat the 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallot, and 1 tsp thyme; saute until browned and liquid is evaporated. Add 1 tbsp white wine and cook until evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove mushrooms and set aside, reserving pan for use later.
Combine the pork, bread cubes, eggs, thyme, rosemary, onion, cheese and garlic. Using your hands, mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Add 1/2 of the pork mixture to a loaf pan. Spread the mushrooms leaving a bit of a border, then top with the remaining meatloaf mixture, pressing to seal the edges. Transfer to oven and cook for 50 to 60 minutes.
During the last 10 minutes of cooking,  heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat in reserved pan from mushrooms. Add the shallots and cook till browned. Add the chicken stock and wine; reduce slightly. Add the dijon and balsamic and continue to cook until the sauce becomes thick and color has darkened. Add the maple syrup, thyme, salt and pepper.
To serve, slice the meatloaf and drizzle with the sauce.
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