Friday, March 9, 2012

Evaporated Milk (& Meat Loaf)

I know I should quit being shocked about what's in processed foods. I know it's naive to think that something called "evaporated milk" would be, you know, nothing but milk. And yet I still get frustrated any time I check an ingredients label for the first time and have to remove yet another staple from my pantry.

Luckily I don't use evaporated milk all that often, because it turns out to be a time-consuming process (though super easy).

Last night I was craving meatloaf, which I could normally whip right up, but when I discovered the evaporated milk issue, I decided to put off that meal until today.

In preparation, here's what I did this morning:

  1. I checked the amount of evaporated milk called for in the recipe and put TRIPLE that much regular milk into a saucepan.
  2. I turned the burner on to low, so as not to scald the milk.
  3. I checked back every half hour or so and poured the milk into my glass measuring cup to see how far it had reduced, then returned it to the pan.

As you can tell, the hands-on time was minimal. It's just that it does take hours to evaporate enough. For most people it's probably not worth it unless you're as set as I am about avoiding unnecessary ingredients in your food.

Here's my family's meatloaf recipe, though. I grew up with this, which is probably why I love it so much. Enjoy!

1 lb ground beef
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup ketchup*
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp salt
3 small potatoes, sliced

1. Combine all ingredients except potatoes.**
2. Spread potato slices in the bottom of a loaf pan.
3. Add meat mixture to the top. Bake at 350F for one hour.

*For ketchup, I mixed 6oz tomato paste, 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/4 tsp salt, and a heavy sprinkle each of cinnamon and ground mustard. Onion powder, cayenne pepper powder and other fun spices would also be great, but usually I'm too lazy to pull them all out.

**Because of my insistence about soaking grains, I first combined the evaporated milk and oats with a tablespoon of yogurt and let that sit out all day so the oats would be softened. Then I added the meat and ketchup and salt when ready to put it in the oven.

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