Ingredients

February 16, 2008

Excerpted from The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider (William Morrow, An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006). Copyright 2006 by Sally Schneider

Serves 8

This unusual lamb meat loaf, seasoned with cumin, coriander, fennel, and cinnamon was inspired by the flavors of a Moroccan lamb tagine. The thin core of pitted prunes baked into the center gives a hint of sweetness that balances the spices, an interesting, though not essential, embellishment.

1. In a small skillet, cook 1 medium onion, chopped (scant 1-1/4 cups), in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, covered, over low heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat slightly, and sauté, stirring frequently, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 2 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon), and cook, stirring, 1 minute longer. Then add 1/2 cup dry white wine and simmer until the liquid has evaporated, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine 1-1/2 pounds lean ground lamb, 1/2 pound lean ground veal, the onion mixture, 1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, 1/4 cup yogurt, 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley,1-1/4 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, 1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, 1-1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, 1-1/4 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3 tablespoons tahini or 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 2-1/2 to 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest. Mix by hand until well blended.

3. Scoop half the mixture into the center of a large heavy baking pan and smooth into a squat loaf about 10 x 5 inches. Arrange 8 to 10 pitted prunes end to end in a line down the center of the loaf. Pile the remaining meat mixture on top and smooth into a neat loaf.

Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 150 F, about 55 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before transferring to a platter.

Instructions