Foodie Friday: Accidental Heat

First, an apology: today’s post has no photos.

To be totally honest, I wasn’t planning to post anything today.  My spouse has taken over much of the cooking in the house lately, and this means that I’m taking even fewer photos than usual.  I came home exhausted from work, remembered that I had failed to post anything for today, and decided that the world wouldn’t end if I didn’t tell you all about meatloaf.

But then this very interesting thing happened with my meatloaf, and it was so interesting that I had to tell you all about it.

Now, you probably know that I”m not a big fan of spicy food (at least, you are if you happened upon my rant about spicy food in this post).  So I don’t generally make it.

At least, not on purpose.

So here I am, throwing together a meatloaf for dinner.  (I looooove meatloaf.  My mom has the best recipe and I use it all the time.)  I have a package of bulk sausage from a discount bundle from my local butcher shop, which I slice open and hurl a hunk of into my bowl.  As I’m moving on, I notice the edge of the package has written “wild country” on it.  And I think to myself, “Huh, I wonder what that’s about. Wild boar? Particularly interesting seasoning?”

And I give it zero additional thoughts as I make the rest of dinner – or at least, until I pull the meatloaf out of the microwave (ok, I’m putting this recipe below because now you must think I’m crazy) and go to pour off the fat to make gravy.  And I see all these little red flecks, and I think, “Wow, that sausage must have a lot of hot pepper in it, because I didn’t put anything else in it that would have anything like that.”

And I give it zero more thoughts, because I’m making gravy and mashed potatoes and roasting some broccoli – or at least, until I sit down at the table with my plate of meatloaf and fixins, and see again those little red flecks.  And I go, “Huh.  Wild country sausage, I get it.  I hope I can eat this.”

Well, as it turns out, it was delicious.  It was also fiery and painful, but armed with a giant pile of roasted broccoli, a mound of mashed potatoes, and a glass of water, I make my way through with more enjoyment than pain.

But here’s the really interesting part.  I finished my meatloaf, and then my broccoli, and move on to finish my mashed potatoes and gravy.  All of a sudden, I’m on fire again.  I think to myself “What on earth??  Are my potatoes somehow spicy?”

And then I got it.  Capsaicin, the stuff that makes hot foods hot, is oil-soluable.  Said gravy was made with the fat poured off from my awesome, accidentally spicy meatloaf.  Some of the capsaicin from the meatloaf had snuck into the gravy, giving it this long, slow burn that was hardly noticeable at first, but built up over time.

If you are a fan of spicy food, then you would have freaking loved this gravy.  I would never have thought to make spicy gravy (because I would never make spicy anything, because I don’t like causing myself pain. Spoilers: I also don’t beat myself with sticks.) – but I also don’t recall ever seeing spicy gravy offered or proposed anywhere. So if you like spicy stuff, I’d totally recommend it.  A sausage gravy for biscuits made with this stuff would be awesome.

So there you have it.  Accidentally spicy meatloaf and gravy.  The highlight of my night.

And if you’re interested in making your own, here you go.

Mix together about a half pound each of raw ground beef and sausage, add an egg, a small pile of breadcrumbs (1/2cup or so, enough to hold it together, fresh are a bit better than dry), a good squirt of ketchup, a few good shakes of Worcestershire, a big pinch of salt, a splash of milk, and a chopped onion. Get over yourself and just use your hands.

Shape it into a ring (yes, leave a hole in the middle) in a microwave-safe container, and put stuff on top if you want (ketchup, BBQ sauce, bacon, tonkatsu sauce, nothing, whatever).  Cover with a lid or waxed paper, and cook for 3 rounds of 7 minutes at 70% power, turning it about half a turn between each round.  (You can also do this in the oven; leave it uncovered, cook at 350 or so for 30-45 minutes; you can make a more traditional loaf shape if you do it this way.)

Pour off the fat when it’s done (careful, hot!) and use that to make gravy (or discard, if you’re a heretical person who doesn’t like gravy).  This is great to eat fresh out of the [microwave] oven, but it also makes great leftovers for future meals or meatloaf sandwiches.

But it’s not very photogenic, so don’t get your hopes up for beauty.  Let’s pretend that’s why I don’t have any pictures, ok?

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