Meatloaf in a clay pot = amazing!

I am getting more brave with my clay pot cooking experiments. We started with the Cornish Game Hens, then did chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, and today I want to share with you the meatloaf meal. I love meatloaf, and thought it would be a lot of fun to try this cooking method.

Claypot Meatloaf
Meatloaf is in the pot and ready to go. To prepare your pot for cooking read my Cornish Game Hen post.
Clay Pot Meatloaf - cooked
TAA-DAA! The recipe says to cook it ~90 minutes, I think at ~80 minutes you could put your meat thermometer in and see if it was ready. Next time I would also double the amount of yummy goodness spread over the top (aka ketchup blend).
Clay Pot Meatloaf dinner
I served the meatloaf with squash and a green salad. The meatloaf was excellent!

So far, the meatloaf has been my favorite clay pot dinner. It was very moist and had a rich, meaty flavor with the hint of earthiness from the clay. This recipe was the hardest to clean up afterwards. Some of the meat was stuck pretty good to the bottom of the pot. Next time I would add just a bit more liquid, or as I mentioned, decrease the cooking time. I also found a meatloaf and potato recipe. This one suggests putting the potatoes around the loaf, but I think I would put a layer of potatoes on the bottom, then the meat on top. Stay tuned, we have some other clay pot creations coming.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
Facebook
Pinterest

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Clay Pot Cooking: Cornish Game Hens

Over the Christmas break my Mom and I cleaned out her cabinets and found a gently used clay pot that she was willing to re-gift to me 🙂 Thanks Mom! I have never cooked anything in one of these babies… So the first thing I did was head to Google to read all about how I could master clay port cooking. I found several sites with some great information including The Essential Kitchen: Clay Pot Cooking, Cooking with Shirley and Cooking in Clay Pots, and the kitchn Two Unique and Unexpected Benefits of Cooking in Clay.

So after reading all about cooking in clay pots, it was time to give it a try. I wasn’t sure if a chicken would fit into my pot, so I decided to start with Cornish Game Hens. I also had a bunch of veggies in the fridge. But first things first, I had to soak the pot. My dang sink wasn’t big enough to accommodate both the top and bottom on the same side. So I had to soak them on separate sides, which to me was a waste of water. Normally I would water my plants with this water, but I gave all of my plants away when we moved (and I digress…). Next time I am going to try soaking them together in a 5-gallon bucket filled in the tub, stay tuned on how that works for me.

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Soaking the clay pot.

From my background reading it said to put the seasoned meat which had been rubbed with butter into the pot. I literally rubbed soft butter over the Hens, it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I hoped it would, and got pretty messy. There were seasoned clumps of butter all over the Hens. Next time I will melt the butter first, use a brush to apply it, and then season the meat. It was at this stage that I also added my veggies (garlic, onion, carrot, potato, and jalapeno) to the pot.

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Cornish Game Hens with veggies in a clay pot.

One of the sources I read said to add the juice of 1/2 lemon over the top, so I did that and put the lid on. In everything I read they made it clear that no additional juices or liquids should be added, as the steam and juices from the meat and veggies would be plenty. It is important to note that the pot should be put into a cold oven, once the oven is turned on, the oven and the pot can heat together. Putting the pot into a hot oven may cause it to crack. Also, when you take the lid off to brown the bird(s) in the final stage, the lid should be placed on a fabric potholder or towel, as setting it on a cool surface may crack it.

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The wet pot has all of the yummy goodness inside and is going into the oven. PS, I just love the agriculture scene on the lid.

I couldn’t find any guidelines for how long to cook Cornish Game Hens with veggies, so I just went with the amount of time that was suggested to cook a chicken. At about 50 minutes I checked on the Hens and saw that the juices coming from them were bloody, so I let it cook for an additional 10-15 minutes with the lid on. I think adding so many veggies to the pot increased the cook time, which was not a big deal, I will just keep that in mind next time.

When I removed the lid the second time, the juices ran clear and the internal temp was taken. As recommended, I let it cook an additional 10 minutes with the lid off to brown the top of the Hens. After I pulled it out of the oven I let it rest for about 10 minutes. I am not sure if that step was necessary, as everything keeps cooking since the pot is so hot. Be cautious when removing and replacing the lid, they are very hot and there is steam!

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TaaDaa!! The finished product.

The end product looked delicious. We were anxious to try it. The meat was so moist and tender, it was great. The veggies were tasty too, especially the garlic, which had great flavor. There was a slight flavor of clay with everything, it was a little strong to me, but The Hubs didn’t notice it as much. I think as the pot becomes more seasoned this flavor may dissipate. It added a very earthy flavor.

Clean up of the pot wasn’t bad. There was a lot of liquid in the bottom, so nothing stuck there. As you can see in the picture, there were a few veggies stuck to the side. I just let the pot soak in plain water for about 20 minutes and those scrubbed off. The information I read said not to use a detergent/soap to clean the pot as the pores will soak up the detergent and give your food an off flavor. A baking soda paste for the real stuck on stuff was suggested. It was also not recommended to put the pot in the dishwasher because of temperature fluctuations. I let the pot dry on the counter for several days before putting it away as I read it could get moldy if put away wet/damp. If that happens it was suggested to use a baking soda paste on those areas.

Next in clay pot cooking I am going to try a chicken with 40 cloves of garlic! Now that I know a chicken will fit, and I know that garlic is excellent in the pot, it seems like a logical next dish in my culinary experimentation. I want to also try meatloaf and a stew. I have also read that if you plan to bake sweets in a clay pot, a second one should be purchased, as cooking sweet foods in the savory seasoned pot may make bad/weird flavor combinations – remember the pores in the clay soak up the flavors.

Have you cooked in a clay pot? What is your favorite thing to make? What advice do you have for me? I would love to hear from you.

I have been experimenting, and have tried this clay pot dishes too:

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
Facebook
Pinterest

The Strongman Cooks… An interview with LBEB’s Brandon

I recently asked Brandon at Lift Big Eat Big (LBEB) some questions about food and agriculture. You might remember him from this blog post.

If you don’t already follow Brandon on social media you should. He is on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and has a website.

Tell me about yourself?

My name is Brandon Morrison, I am a Powerlifter and Strongman, and I have been running LBEB (Lift Big Eat Big) for 4 years now. I graduated from Seattle University with a degree in historical theology and religious studies. Now, that doesn’t really have anything to do with lifting, but there is much more to me than lifting. I am the biggest (literally) history buff you will ever meet, and I have an insatiable appetite for more knowledge!

What role does animal protein play in your life?

Animal protein plays a big part in my life. In addition to hunting with my father or brothers most years, I use animal proteins in most of my cooking videos, and they are usually the centerpiece of the meal. In addition to simply cooking it, I like to study the different cuts of the animal, and learn how the animal’s lifestyle can influence the taste or texture of the meat. For example, I recently have been learning about the sleeping positions of cattle, and which side they favor to rest on. The side that they rest on can greatly influence the composition of a brisket. If a cow tends to rest on their right side, as I believe the average cow does, the right brisket will be much tougher than the left brisket. For this reason, I like to buy left briskets whenever I can!

brisket
Brandon knows brisket… Check him out on Instagram to see how amazing this brisket turned out!

Do you have any agriculture experience?

I unfortunately do not have much agricultural experience worth discussing. However, I like to get my ag information from experts in the field, rather than Facebook scare tactic photos. 🙂

How did you get into the culinary arts?

I got into the culinary arts for a few reasons:
#1. Cooking gives me an immediate sense of gratification, which I do tend to enjoy more than I should.
#2. I need something to obsess over, and since cooking can always be improved, it fulfills my needs.
#3. I am constantly bombarded with new ideas in my mind, and it can create for a very stressful life. With cooking, though, I can put these new ideas to use, as quickly as they come. For example, last Saturday I made 9 different meals, just for fun and practice.
#4. I love discussing the mouthfeel of food, what it reminds people of, what can be improved, and most importantly, I love when people enjoy food!

What is your favorite thing to make?

Right now my favorite thing to make is biscuits. Actually, no, I love biscuits, but I am obsessed with cooking pasta in a risotto-style right now. Basically, this means that instead of boiling pasta in water until cooked, you heat butter and the pasta in a hot pan, and have 1/2 gallon of chicken stock heated in another pan. You will add 1 cup of hot stock to the noodle pan, about every 3 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. It will completely change the way you make pasta, any pasta. I’ll never go back!

If you could master any food dish what would it be?

If I could master any dish, it would have to be a simple Chinese dish. While some Chinese dishes may SEEM simple, in reality, you almost need an entire second kitchen’s worth of tools and ingredients. I have made Chinese bao buns, which turned out great, but I would really enjoy making great dim sum from complete scratch. I will get there, eventually. 🙂

Brandon_LBEB
Brandon with two of his life passions…

What a fun interview! A seat at Brandon’s table would be a foodie’s dream. Brandon, the agriculturists of the world thank you for your support!

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Month in review… Wordless Wednesday

A photo montage from the last month…

tractor
Crop planting is in full swing…
promotion
Promotion from Assistant to Associate Educator…
HerbieHuskerMBL
The UNL Mobile Beef Lab has been busy!
1011 interview
A meat labeling segment on 10/11 news in Lincoln.
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Truth in marketing and labeling is leaving something to be desired…
food
Food and cooking!
travel
Travel to South Dakota, Iowa, and Kansas City.

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

Earlier in the week I shared with you how to save money at the meat counter by buying in bulk and freezing in individual portions sizes. I recently defrosted a couple of packages of pork chops and made Sweet and Sour Pork Chops – and there was plenty for leftovers the next day! Recipe at bottom.

Mustard and brwn sugar
Brown sugar and mustard.
Sweet and sour
Mix together until you get a sauce.
S&SPork
Place pork chops in a baking dish and cover with the brown sugar and mustard (do not add water).
S&SPorkChops
Bake on 350 degrees F until done – YUM!

Sweet and Sour Pork Chops

Ingredients:

– mustard

– brown sugar

– pork chops

1. Add brown sugar and mustard to a bowl, mix together until well blended. You can make them sweeter or more sour by adjusting the amount of either ingredient.

2. Place pork chops in a single layer in a baking dish and cover with the brown sugar/mustard sauce. Do not add any additional water to the pan.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F until done (check them at about 25 minutes). Use a meat thermometer to test their doneness. Remember pork chops only need to be cooked to 145 degrees F!

4. Drizzle some sauce (aka delicious goodness) over your chops when served.

5. Serve with your favorite sides – enjoy!