Monday, March 5, 2012

Forloren Hare (Danish Meat Loaf)

After my gnocchi debacle the other night, I was in some serious need of redemption and I found it in the comforting form of meatloaf. The January/February 2012 issue of Saveur listed meatloaf as one of a select 100 "new classics" (whatever that means exactly) and included recipes for several versions of it, one of which caught my eye more than the others. Listed in the article was a variety of meatloaf from Denmark called forloren hare (literally "fake hare" or "mock hare" in Danish) that includes a mixture of beef/pork, some heavy cream, a rich gravy, and strips of bacon over the top to help retain moisture during baking (apparently, those Danes know how to indulge themselves). Now, we already have a house meatloaf recipe that's pretty well received (courtesy of my mother-in-law) - it also happens to include a beef/pork mix, but not any of the other goodies I listed. So, as a change of pace, I decided to give our mock hare a try in the Commissary.

All of the ingredients were procured pretty easily (I had to go to my local ethnic grocery to find some red currant jelly) and the dish's assembly was not tricky at all. I ended up using about 6 slices of thick-cut bacon to cover the loaf before putting it into the oven on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. While it was baking, I whipped up the gravy on the stovetop (I believe this was my first ever gravy made from scratch) and was quite surprised at the decadent result from cooking down caramelized onions, beef stock, the jelly, some flour/butter, a little thyme, and a bay leaf. Although the recipe called for straining the gravy to remove all of the solids, I couldn't resist taking a couple spoonfuls of the filtered debris (which was loaded with those awesome browned onions) and mixing it back into the gravy liquid to kick it up a notch.

The meatloaf came out of the oven not looking all that great (hence the lack of a picture in this post), but the flavor was a knockout, with Mrs. Hackknife and I both swooning (and completely forgetting about the weekend's earlier failures). The progeny were content to nibble on the bacon portion of the loaf, which I consider to be a vote of confidence from that crowd. All told, it blew away our house version of meatloaf, not surprising considering the rich contents. If the local county fair had a contest to judge baked meat structures, the forloren hare (I would have to rename it "Danish Beauty" for marketing purposes) would definitely be my blue ribbon submission. Unfortunately, the extra fat from the bacon/gravy/cream did a number on my insides for 12-24 hours after the fact, so we'll have to save this recipe for special occasions and holidays for now on, sticking to the old, blander standby for our habitual meatloaf...

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