Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sweet Potatoes and Pork Together and Forever Good

Pork Meatloaf Stuffed With Sweet Potatoes
I used a toaster oven for this recipe which saves time (no need to preheat the oven) and energy. You can use a conventional oven.

1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (1/2" square)
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon olive oil

Sprinkle nutmeg over sweet potatoes and toss with olive oil.  Spread onto a pan that fits into the toaster oven (or baking sheet for a conventional oven) and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until fork tender.  Mash potatoes with a potato masher or in a blender.  The mixture does not need to be smooth.

While sweet potatoes are baking prepare the pork meatloaf mixture:

1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 lb ground pork
1 rice cake (plain) or 3/4 cup bread or cracker crumbs (can be wheat free)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dry sage
1/2 tsp dry ground mustard
2 large clove garlic, mashed
several grinds of pepper (to taste)
1 large egg

Mix all of the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.

Spread about 1/3 of the meat mixture into a lightly oiled loaf pan. Mold the sweat potato mixture along the center of the meatloaf so that when you cut into the finished meatloaf there will be a beautiful circle of sweet potato. Gently spread the remaining meatloaf mixture over the sweet potato mound, sealing in the sides.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour. Allow meatloaf to sit for about 15 minutes before diving in!

Sweet potatoes and pork go together like ice cream and cake (OK, I do have a friend who doesn’t like ice cream on top of her cake because she doesn’t like soggy cake, but this is just one friend, and most of us “get” the analogy). One of my favorite dinners is very simple – pork chops or, even better, roast pork and baked sweet potato. The combination is divine.

Getting kids to eat a variety of foods can be tricky. I was a picky eater as a child and so was my younger son. I’m not quite sure how I eventually grew out of my picky-eater stage (but I know now that I wish it had come sooner because I missed a whole lot of good eats!) I also know that the combination of not forcing my picky-eater son to eat everything served to him and inviting him to help in the kitchen paved the way to a son who eats healthy and loves to cook – even though he still prefers meats and starches over veggies and fruits but he does conscientiously eat a well-balanced diet.

I have always loved to get my hands into what I am working with. I took several ceramics classes years ago and loved the experience of getting my hands in the clay. I cook the same way. When I was a kid, Mom would always let me mix the meatloaf – (clean) hands in, almost to the elbow, I would knead that meatloaf into a well integrated mass. My meatloaf never fell apart. I have recently seen meatloaf recipes warning cooks to mix lightly. For this recipe, my friends, I advise to let the little ones knead all they want because a solid meatloaf around the sweet potato filling will have more eye-appeal than a tender lump of mixed mash. And if your kid helped make it, he/she will surely enjoy the eating all the more, especially when you rave about how good it is. And this is one good recipe!

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