January 7, 2008

Dark Days Challenge Week 1: Kale and Bran Meatloaf and Colcannon

This is my first post as part of the Dark Days Challenge, a challenge to cook at least one meal per week comprised of 90% local ingredients throughout the winter until March. To read about what fellow bloggers are cooking up locally in their area, check out Urban Hennery every other Sunday.

It's wintertime. Even though the weather can't make up its mind, waffling between last week's bitter cold and today's balmy air, the vegetables have succumbed to winter. At last Friday's Greenmarket in Union Square, just about the only vegetables I could find were the hardy types - onions, potatoes, garlic, and the mighty kale, with not even a carrot in sight. I did find some new meat options, however, including grass-fed ground beef, and turkey sausage from Di Paolo Turkey Farm. I decided to put my purchases to use in a great American homemade classic, perfect for warming your bones on a winter day - meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

I was pleased to find that adding kale to mashed potatoes is a well established Irish dish, Colcannon, that involves mashing potatoes with cabbage or winter greens, butter, salt, and pepper. I further amped up the color of the Colcannon by including a couple Adirondack red potatoes, a beautiful variety with pinkish flesh that is native to New York. I think sauteeing the kale before adding it to the potatoes and the meatloaf really boosted the flavor. Moreover, by using just a half bunch of kale in each, the kale added great texture and taste without overwhelming the mashed potatoes and meatloaf. Even I enjoyed it all, even though I don't like sauteed kale on its own.

Having never made meatloaf before, it was surprisingly moist and flavorful, and tasted too good to be true. But packed with kale, bran, and sustainable meats, we feasted, knowing that we were powering our body with good, healthy food. I will definitely be making this again.

Sauteed Kale
1 bunch of kale
1 onion
3 cloves garlic

Dice onion and garlic and sautee in extra virgin olive oil over medium low heat. Meanwhile, wash and finely chop kale, discarding thick stems towards bottom of the bunch. Add kale, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp water and cover, stirring occasionally until kale is wilted.

Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes)
2 large or 4 small potatoes
1/2 cup milk or soy milk (to make it vegan)
1 tsp butter (or Smart Balance Light to make it vegan)
1/2 sauteed kale mixture

Chop potatoes into 1-inch pieces and place in pot of salted water. Bring to boil and then let simmer until potatoes are tender, approximately 20 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander and return to pot. Mash coarsely with wooden spoon. Add half of the sauteed kale mixture, salt, and pepper, and mash again until combined. Add butter and half of the milk, and mash again, adding additional milk until desired creamy consistency is reached.

Spicy Meatloaf Sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp water
five dashes of hot sauce

Whisk sauce ingredients together in a small bowl with a fork until smooth and combined.

Kale and Bran Meatloaf
1 lb ground beef
1/3 lb turkey sausage
1 1/4 cup wheat bran
1/2 sauteed kale mixture
1 large egg
pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all meatloaf ingredients in a bowl. Grease a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Empy the meatloaf into the loaf pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes (check at 40 minutes). Cut a chunk out of the middle to make sure meat is no longer pink and is fully cooked. Remove meatloaf from pan and scrape any fat off the top. Spread sauce over top. Cut into slices, and serve with mashed potatoes and additional sauce if desired.

Summary - all ingredients were locally sourced from farmers markets in Union Square and McCarren Park except Bob's Red Mill Wheat Bran, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, Muir Glen organic ketchup, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and soy milk.


Melinda said...

I've never heard of colcannon, but it looks scrumptious! I will definitely try it, as we have mountains of kale in our garden. I might use scallions instead of onions, since we have loads of them in our garden - do you think that would work?

Julia said...

sure, my roommate usually puts scallions and garlic in her mashed potatoes, so i think it would be good with kale too.