Meatloaf grinders worth laboring over
A riff on a meatball sub, meatloaf grinders are a tasty way to celebrate the final days of summer. | Melissa Elsmo~For Sun-Times Media
Labor Day Grilled Meatloaf Grinders
Yields 10 (3 meatball) grinders or 5 grinders and 1 loaf
A riff on a meatball sub, this summer sandwich will serve a crowd. If you don’t need 10 sandwiches, make 15 meatballs to make 5 sandwiches and shape the remaining meat mixture into a loaf and bake it for 1 hour at 375 degrees or until cooked through to serve for dinner the following day.
For the Meatloaf:
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 celery rib, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
2/3 cup reduced sodium saltine crackers, crushed
2/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 egg plus 1 egg white
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 pounds ground chuck
Grilled multi-grain baguette
Roasted red peppers
Fried onion rings
Light mayo mixed with ketchup
Pulse the first five ingredients in a food processor until minced, but not liquefied. Add the minced vegetables to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the meat and turn on low speed. While the machine is running, begin adding the meat a little at a time until all of the meat has been evenly incorporated. Do not over mix.
Prepare an indirect charcoal grill of medium heat. Meanwhile, with wet hands, shape the meatloaf mixture into 1½ inch balls. Skewer 3 meatballs onto each water-soaked 6-inch wooden skewer. Place the skewers on the oiled grill grate away from the direct heat source. Cover the grill and allow skewers to cook for 10 minutes per side or until cooked through.
Serve 3 meatballs on 4-inch sections of grilled bread spread with the ketchup and mayo sauce and garnished with onion rings, roasted red peppers and arugula. Sprinkle sandwiches with coarse salt and serve.
Updated: October 9, 2012 5:10PM
The cicadas’ singing suggests that autumn weather is just around the corner and last week’s back to school hullabaloo confirms we are in the waning days of summer.
When facing hectic fall schedules it’s no wonder folks clamor for one final sunny celebration to send summer out in style. Labor Day represents the last lazy weekend to gather with friends and throw a summer party, but I’d wager few grill masters think about the Labor movement that freed American workers to flip burgers for fun on a Monday. Let’s give a nod to history this Labor Day and party like it’s 1894!
In the late 19th century, the Industrial Revolution was reaching its peak in the United States. Transportation and technology advancements helped speed up the production process of everything from fabric to food. In fact, the development of the meat grinder in the late 1880’s decreased waste in production lines and allowed manufactures to offer ground meats for sale at extremely low prices. As much as those work weary factory employees probably craved a little comfort food after putting in a 10 hour day, Americans were resistant to serving ground meats at their family table.
While food producers went to work marketing their newfangled ground beef, working conditions had deteriorated in the face of so much manufacturing progress. Labor Unions began helping disgruntled workers, fatigued by working egregiously long hours for miniscule pay, to organize themselves in protest. The first Labor Day Parade was held on Sept. 5, 1882 to bring attention to the plight of American laborers and to aid in negotiations with stubborn employers.
The concept of a holiday celebrating the spirit of the American workforce caught on in several large cities in the coming years, but it took more than a decade before the government made Labor Day a federal holiday. In 1894, acts of violence and compromised train transportation forced the United States government to appease angry workers in part by pushing Labor Day legislation through Congress.
Just as Labor Day found its official holiday footing, it became clear that Americans had not only warmed to the idea of ground meats for use in recipes, but celebrated its versatility. Whether used for Stroganoff, meatballs or hamburgers, the newly favored ground meats remained inexpensive and readily available during tough economic times. Meatloaf especially gained in popularity with a version appearing in nearly every cookbook at the time. Frugal cooks found the concoction could fill a family with ease. Over time meatloaf became the most recognizable dish associated with American comfort foods.
Make a culinary connection next Monday by linking two products of the Industrial revolution: Labor Day and meatloaf. Doing so will not only honor the holiday, but give you and your guests a chance to taste a little piece of history.
Melissa Elsmo is an Oak Park mom, wife and chef/foodie. She speaks regularly about reclaiming the family dinner hour with nutritious meals. Check out her food blog at www.outofmelskitchen.blogspot.com.