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Mar 15, 2016
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WINE WITH…French Meatloaf with Dried Tomatoes and Pistachios

A friend of ours recently returned from Italy bringing us a gift of air-dried Pachino tomatoes. Fire engine red, petite in size yet big in flavor, luscious little Pachinos are protected by the European Community with an IGP certification (meaning, basically, a protected geographic designation). We immediately used some of them in a simple pasta sauce with olive oil, garlic, basil and dried pepper flakes. They were so tasty that we immediately began to ponder other possible ways to enjoy them. For bruschetta and pizza of course, and in salads, but we were looking for a more substantial dish in which to highlight these little morsels of sweet, intense flavor. And then it came to us: let’s slip a few of the tomatoes into a meatloaf, in much the same way that prunes or figs are sometimes used in a French terrine. Throw in a few pistachios and voilà, a French-inspired main dish!

As a cold alternative that would make a fine first course, the meatloaf can be turned into a good approximation of a French country terrine. Leave it fully cooked in its pan, covered with foil. When it is cool, weigh it down with a brick or other heavy object for several hours, then refrigerate it. Cut the terrine in slices and serve it with mustard, cornichons and good bread.

For the Pachino tomatoes you could substitute other air-dried or oil cured tomatoes, or oven-roasted cherry or grape tomatoes (if using cherry tomatoes cut them in half).

French Meatloaf With Dried Tomatoes and Pistachios

Serves 6-8

1 or 2 slices bacon
1 and 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup minced shallots
1tablespoon olive oil plus more for greasing the pan
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons cognac or brandy
3 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
1/3 cup small dried tomatoes
1/4 cup pistachio nuts

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Bring a cupful of water to a boil in a small skillet or saucepan. Add the bacon, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 seconds. Drain the blanched bacon on paper towels and reserve.

Combine the beef and pork in a large bowl. Sauté the garlic and shallots in the oil until they have softened. Add them to the meats along with the breadcrumbs, salt, cognac, wine and seasonings. When the ingredients are thoroughly combined, stir in the tomatoes and pistachios. Lightly oil a large loaf pan or two small pans and fill them with the meatloaf mixture. Lay a blanched bacon strip over the top and bake for 20 to 45 minutes (depending on the size of the pan), or until the internal temperature registers 165° on an instant-read thermometer.

* * *

When served hot, fresh from the oven, this is definitely a red wine dish. (If cold as a first course, it could pair well with white or sparkling wines as well.) But what sort of red wine? We found that light-bodied ones didn’t sport enough heft to make the match successful. The meatloaf tastes quite rich and, given the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, intriguingly spicy, so it benefits from a somewhat muscular wine partner.

Questions or comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com

Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Fairview, Coastal Region (South Africa) Shiraz 2013

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)

$18

The peppery notes in this Shiraz complemented the meat nicely, as did the red and black fruit flavors. Happily, there was no trace of rubbery band-aid in the finish (as there is in many South African reds).

Nieto Senetiner, Mendoza (Argentina) Bonarda 2012

(Imported by Foley Family Wines)

$14

We did not have high hopes for this pairing, as we usually find Bonarda to be a fairly boring grape variety. But we were flat out wrong. The wine’s juicy character and earthy secondary flavors made it an outstanding partner.

Qupé, Santa Barbara County (California) Syrah 2012

$30

Quite French in character, this Syrah has peppery notes with hints of bacon fat and barnyard in the background. Those non-fruit flavors, along with its more forward fruit, gave it plenty of depth and character—just what this dish needed in a wine match.

Tenuta Rapitalà, Sicily (Italy) Pinot Nero & Nero d’Avola “Nuhar”

(Imported by Frederick Wildman)

$14

Surprisingly soft but full of rich, ripe flavor, this Sicilian beauty echoed the sweet spice elements in the meatloaf. This winery is on an impressive roll these days, with a bevy of exciting, reasonably-priced wines in its portfolio. Don’t miss them!

Ventisquero, Maipo Valley (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon “Grey” Trinidad Vineyard

(Imported by the San Francisco Wine Exchange)

$45

The most substantial wine we are recommending, with deep, dark flavors augmented by characteristically Chilean herbal notes, this wine did not overwhelm the dish, as we initially feared. It instead complemented the meatloaf beautifully.