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Lisa Fain's Tex-Mex Meatloaf with Chipotle-Tomato Glaze

Tex-mex meatloaf

There are a few truths that are universal to food blogging: 

1. Shooting in natural light will always result in the best photos.

2. Posts on cake always get the most comments.

3. It is literally impossible to make meatloaf look good.

But not every post around here can be about cake now, can it? We'd all be twenty pounds heavier with really bad teeth. And anyway, we're all smart enough to know that sometimes the homeliest things are the most delicious.

Especially meatloaf.

Chipotle-lime tomato sauce

This meatloaf is particularly wonderful. It comes from Lisa Fain's Homesick Texan cookbook, which was published a few years ago, when I was deep in the misery of book-writing and not inclined to go chile-hunting in my fair city. But now, my kitchen a veritable font of chiles (chipotle! New Mexico! Arbol! Guajillo!), I'm making up for lost time. The meatloaf was the first thing I made from the book and if it's any indication of the quality of the rest of the recipes, we are in for a very good time indeed.

Now, despite my bragging about all those chiles in my possession, I was still short of several things that Lisa calls for - fresh chorizo, for example, and cilantro and tortilla chips. I didn't even have Worcestershire sauce. But I did have Sicilian colatura, which is also made from anchovies, so I used that instead. Even without the chorizo and with boring old breadcrumbs instead of crushed tortilla chips, this meatloaf was fantastic. Exploding with unexpected flavors.

But the very best part of the recipe? The tomato-chipotle glaze that Lisa has you slather on top of the meatloaf twice - once before baking and once almost at the end. She spikes the glaze with lime juice and adds allspice, and as it concentrates in the heat of the oven, it becomes incredibly tangy and spicy and rich. It's better than ketchup and if you know me at all, this is saying something. (I could eat it with a spoon.) In the days after I made the meatloaf, when I'd unpack it from its foil pouch and slice off a piece for lunch, I kept wishing I'd made more of the glaze for slathering and sandwich-making.

In fact, I think that what I really need to do is just make a double batch of the glaze, reduce it in the oven, and then keep it around for all sorts of things, not just this meatloaf. Spreading on burgers, dolloping on fried rice, heck, even just eating with a spoon.

Lisa Fain's Tex-Mex Meatloaf with Chipotle-Tomato Glaze
From The Homesick Texan Cookbook
Serves 6

For the glaze
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes 
1 to 2 canned chipotles in adobo
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cloves garlic

For the meatloaf:
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 pound fresh chorizo, removed from casings (I left this out)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I left this out)
2 large eggs
1 cup finely ground tortilla chips, crackers, or breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or colatura or Asian fish sauce)
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with greased foil.

2. To make the glaze, combine all ingredients except salt in a blender or food processor and puree. Add salt to taste.

3. To make the meat loaf, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and salt and cook 30 seconds more.

4. Scrape the onion mixture into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly by hand.

5. Form the meat mixture into a loaf and place on the baking sheet. Spread half the tomato-chipotle glaze on top of the meatloaf. Place in the oven and bake 50 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and spread the remaining glaze on top. Put back in the oven for 10 additional minutes. Remove meatloaf from the oven and let sit 15 minutes. Slice with a serrated knife and serve.