♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Today on "Cook's Country," I'm making a saucy Italian meatloaf, Jack explores the world of garlic substitutes, Toni's telling us all about scampi, and then, Ashley's making chicken scampi.
It's all coming up next on "Cook's Country."
♪♪ The first written recipe that combined ground meat with breadcrumb and spices dates back to the Romans.
But it's easy to imagine that this kind of dish, that combines valuable meat with easier to find ingredients, probably dates back further than that.
Nowadays, you can find meatloafs flavored with all sorts of things, but today I'm going to show you an Italian-style meatloaf that's flavored with sausage, tomatoes, and Parmesan.
We're going to start by making a tomato sauce.
We're actually going to cook the meatloaf in the tomato sauce, so it's almost like a braise.
And we're going to make our own, very fast, sauce, using canned tomatoes and a little garlic.
Now, here I have 5 cloves of garlic.
Now, to slice a clove of garlic, you have to peel it first.
And try to leave it whole.
Don't smash it.
And then, using a sharp knife, just very carefully, thinly slice the garlic.
Hmm, there we go.
Now, to cook the sauce, we're just going to use a medium sauce pan over medium heat, and I have 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and it's just shimmering now, so I'm going to add the garlic.
We're just going to cook the garlic for about 1 minute, until it's fragrant and it starts to brown a little bit around the edges.
So the garlic has been cooking for about 1 minute and you can see it soften and starting to turn lightly golden around the edges.
That's when it's time to add the canned tomatoes.
Now, I'm using two types of canned tomatoes here.
This is a small, 15-ounce can of tomato sauce.
[ Sizzling ] And then, this is a big can, a 28-ounce can, of crushed tomatoes.
And the combination of the smooth sauce and the slightly chunky, crushed tomatoes is the perfect consistency here.
Now, we're just going to flavor the sauce with a little salt.
1/4 teaspoon of salt.
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
And that's it for our super simple tomato sauce.
We just need to let this simmer gently for about 5 minutes.
And, while that's simmering, we're going to turn our attention to the meatloaf.
Now, most meatloafs mix in breadcrumbs or crackers, which not only stretches the meat, but it also tenderizes the meatloaf.
And today I'm going to use saltine crackers because they have a very mild flavor, they're slightly salty, and they make a very delicate, textured meatloaf.
But we have to crush them first.
This is the fun part.
So this is 35 saltines, which is basically one sleeve minus one, which I always taste, just to make sure they're fresh.
I'm going to put them in a big bag.
Leave a little air pocket.
And now, the fun begins -- the crushing.
Use a good rolling pin.
You can use a meat pounder.
You can use the back of a spoon.
Add all the crumbs right to a nice big bowl.
And we're going to let them soften with a little bit of milk and eggs.
So this is 3/4 cup of whole milk and 2 large eggs.
You just want to stir this together 'til it's a nice, even consistency, and we're just going to let it sit for about 5 minutes, to really soften up those crumbs.
The sauce has been simmering for 5 minutes.
It doesn't really look much different, but this smell is a little more intense, as the garlic has really permeated through those tomatoes.
Alright, so, I'm going to turn the sauce off, set it aside for now.
And now, let's focus on the meatloaf.
So here are the saltine crumbs.
They've been sitting with the milk and eggs.
You can see they're nice and soft.
I'm just going to take a whisk to it, really break up any big pieces of cracker that are left behind.
Now, it's time to add some flavor.
I'm going to start by adding 1 teaspoon of dried oregano.
1 teaspoon of granulated garlic.
1/2 teaspoon of salt.
1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
And last, but definitely not least, some Parmesan.
Now, I'm going to use fresh-grated Parmesan.
I'm going to grate it using a rasp-style grater because those fine shreds will really melt into the meatloaf.
And this is about 2 ounces of Parmesan, which, when grated up in this fluffy style, measures about 1 cup.
Alright, that's about it for the Parmesan.
Now, we're going to whisk all this together.
I like doing this before you add the meat.
That way, all the flavors get evenly mixed with the panade.
It's easier to combine the meat in with this mixture, That's it for all the seasonings.
Now, it's time to add the beef.
Now, this is 1 pound of 85% lean ground beef.
I'm just going to kind of pull it apart and drop it into the bowl.
Now, time for the sausage.
So this is 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage and I've removed it from its casings, although, nowadays, I often find patties of the stuff at the supermarket.
That's almost easier to work with.
And, just like the beef, I'm pulling it into small pieces before dropping it into the bowl, to make it easier to mix in the end.
Alright, now, it's time to mix this all together and I like to take my rings off and really get my hands deep into the mixture because your hands are really the best tools for evenly mixing this all together.
Time to shape this mixture into a nice, tidy meatloaf.
And, as I mentioned earlier, we're going to cook the meatloaf with the sauce, so I'm going to use a casserole dish.
That just keeps everything nice and tidy in the oven.
Alright, so this is a 9x13-inch baking dish and I've already sprayed it with vegetable oil spray.
Take the mixture, put it right into the center of the dish.
Shape this into a 9x5-inch meatloaf.
And I found, if your hands are a little wet, the meat doesn't really stick to you as much.
Alright, so that looks pretty good.
Going to wash my hands.
And now, I'm going to pour the sauce right over the top of the meatloaf and it's going to fall down into the dish all around it.
Alright, now, I'm just going to cover the dish with foil, put it on a rimmed baking sheet, just to catch any drips that might happen.
And we're going to bake this in a 400° degree oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the meatloaf registers 160°.
♪♪ It's been 1 hour and 10 minutes and it's time to check the meatloaf.
Oh, you can smell it.
Oh, it smells delicious!
[ Laughing ] Hoh hoh hoh.
That is a good-lookin' meatloaf.
I love seeing all the little bubbles in the sauce around the edge.
Again, we're looking for a temperature of 160° in the middle.
There we go.
So, here, I have about 1 cup of shredded Fontina and I shredded this on the large holes of the box grater.
I'm going to sprinkle it right on top of the meatloaf and run it under the broiler for just a few minutes.
That just gives it a nice, cheesy crown.
[ Laughing ] Hoh hoh, that's a looker!
Look at that beauty!
I love the melted cheese on top.
Now, the trick here is you have to let this meatloaf rest for at least 15 minutes, so it firms up.
Otherwise, it'll just crumble apart.
So, let it cool for 15 and then, we can come back and taste it.
♪♪ The meatloaf has rested for 15 minutes and now, I'm going to take it out of the pan and transfer it to a cutting board.
The sauce smells amazing.
Now, using a wide, flat spoon, I'm just going to pull out any grease that has pooled on the top of the sauce.
Now, to serve it, what I like to do is slice the meatloaf then put it back into the sauce.
So, nice, big slices of meatloaf, you know, about 1 inch thick or so.
That smells de-licious.
Back into the sauce.
I'm going to sprinkle it with a little bit of fresh basil.
It's about 3 tablespoons of coarsely chopped basil.
Now, time to taste.
In my house, the end pieces always go first and I am an end piece lover, so, this one on the end is callin' my name.
Just a little extra sauce.
[ Laughs ] Mmm!
It is so tender.
Oh, and you can taste the sausage and the Parmesan, little kick of pepper flakes.
It tastes great out of the oven.
But if you happen to have any left over the next day, it makes the best sandwich.
So, if you want to make this meatloaf, remember -- make a quick sauce, using canned tomatoes, use crushed saltines in the meatloaf, and finish with a little Fontina under the broiler.
From "Cook's Country," a fabulous recipe for Italian meatloaf.
It's just like a big old meatball in a pile of sauce.
It is so good.
♪♪ -I love garlic.
I probably use garlic every day.
Fresh garlic is my friend.
But I know many of you struggle with peeling and mincing it and you're looking for shortcuts.
So, before we get to the substitutes you can use and those you can't, let's talk a little bit about where garlic flavor comes from.
[ Sniff ] You give it a sniff, the head of garlic has, actually, no aroma.
You are creating garlic flavor and aroma with your knife.
You simply go like this and, suddenly, what has no flavor and aroma has a ton of flavor and aroma.
What's happening is that there are flavor molecules trapped within the cell structure and, when the knife cuts through the cell walls, suddenly, these compounds can combine and create something called allicin.
Allicin is the thing that makes garlic so amazing.
So, that will explain what works and doesn't work, when it comes to the substitutes.
So let's start off with the dried things -- granulated garlic and garlic powder that you can keep in your pantry.
Now, these are fine in a spice rub, where fresh garlic would burn, but they don't have the same flavor as fresh garlic because that flavor compound that is created by the knife is fleeting and, obviously, dried products do not have fresh garlic flavor.
So, they have a place in the kitchen, but they are not a substitute for fresh garlic.
So you may be thinking, "Okay, let's get something closer to fresh garlic."
We have minced garlic here or garlic paste in a tube.
We actually tried five different brands and, frankly, they were all pretty terrible.
There were two problems -- no garlic flavor and very sour.
Now, the no garlic flavor is coming from the fact that the chemical reaction that produces the flavor occurred when this was minced or turned into a paste, months ago, and it's long gone.
The sourness is coming from citric acid.
They need to add that as a preservative.
So, basically, all you get is tartness, no garlic flavor.
Enough with the bad news.
Let's have some good news.
Whole, peeled cloves.
This is Spice World brand.
We liked it quite a lot.
Other brands, unbranded supermarket brands, can be fine as well.
Two things I want you to do.
I want you to look at the cloves.
So I'm going to actually pick this up.
I don't want to see any discoloration or bruising because that's a sign that the garlic is over the hill.
Second thing is -- and this is going to look a little odd, but I want you to do this at the supermarket -- [ Sniff ] Give it a sniff.
If it's damaged, you can actually smell the garlic through the plastic.
This, no smell, good to go.
It's a great option.
And, finally, an even easier option, that doesn't even require any mincing or chopping.
This is frozen, puréed garlic.
We tested this brand, Dorot.
We really liked it.
It has wonderful garlic flavor.
Now, you may be thinking, "Why does this work and the other products don't?"
It's flash frozen within 90 minutes of being puréed, so that chemical reaction is preserved, as is the garlic flavor.
The other thing is, because it's frozen, they don't need the citric acid, so it doesn't have any of that tartness in it.
It's just garlic, water, salt, and oil.
Super simple to use.
You just take it out of the freezer and you see these little cubes?
You just pop out one of them, pop it out, and that's equal to 1 clove of garlic.
Pop it out again, 2 cloves.
Oh, this is fun.
So there you have it.
For those of you who don't want to be dealing with fresh garlic, you now have options.
♪♪ -Today, I'm making asparagus baked in foil.
First, let's trim the asparagus.
Make sure they measure about 1/4-inch thick at their base.
That just assures everything cooks evenly.
Arrange the asparagus in the center of a foil-lined baking sheet.
You want to be sure to leave a border between the asparagus and the edge of the foil.
Now, let's add some flavor.
Sprinkle butter, shallot, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper evenly over the asparagus.
Time to put together our foil packet.
Place another sheet of foil over the asparagus.
Pinch the sheets together and fold in toward the center.
Now, it's time to cook the asparagus.
Put it in the oven for 18 minutes.
Take the asparagus out of the oven and let it continue to steam in the packet for another 5 minutes.
This will let it gently finish cooking.
Carefully cut open the top of the packet to allow the steam to escape.
The steam is really, really hot, so, be careful to open it away from you.
Sprinkle thyme and lemon juice over the asparagus.
Toss gently with tongs, so that all those flavors get around the asparagus.
Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter and get any of that leftover liquid on top.
It's so delicious.
Top the whole thing with some salty Parmesan cheese and dig in.
♪♪ -Shrimp scampi is yet another example of resourceful immigrants adapting their native techniques to American ingredients.
Shrimp scampi is an Italian American dish featuring shrimp sautéed with lots of garlic and white wine.
It became popular in the U.S. in the 1920s.
The term scampi itself refers to langoustines -- small lobster-like shellfish from the Northern Atlantic.
A famous Venetian dish called spaghetti alla busara features langoustines with pasta and tomatoes.
But langoustines are not widely available in the U.S., so those Italian immigrants swapped the langoustines for more readily available shrimp.
The sauce has proved so popular that, now, it appears on restaurant menus, alongside other items, like fish, chicken, and even cauliflower.
And, at "Cook's Country," we created our own take, using chicken.
♪♪ -If you've ever been to the Olive Garden, then, most likely, you have heard of chicken scampi.
It's very similar to shrimp scampi, but it has fried chicken tenders in it.
So I wanted to make my own version of this, but I wanted to lighten it up a bit.
So, let me show you what I came up with.
I'm going to start by showing you the chicken tenderloins here and how to prepare them.
So I'm just going to take some shears.
Here, we have 2 pounds of the tenderloins and you're going to see a tendon at the end of the tenderloin.
And, if you don't take this part off, it's just going to be pretty chewy, so I like to remove it, if possible.
Using my shears, just want to remove that tendon.
Just like so.
I've got one more tendon.
So I've got my paper towels here.
You always want to pat it dry first, to wick away any moisture.
And then, I'm going to season both sides with some salt and pepper.
So, here, I have my breading station.
I've got a couple eggs and I'm going to add a little bit of salt to it, just to help season it.
1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Give that a good whisk.
And then, here, I have 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour.
So, what you want to do is you want to have one hand for working with the wet stuff, one hand for working with the dry stuff, and just work right down the counter.
I'm going to land everything onto this large plate here.
I'm going to keep flouring this chicken and then, I'm going to wash up and it's going to be time to cook.
Now, it's time to cook our chicken tenders.
I'm going to cook them half a batch at a time in this 12-inch nonstick skillet.
I've got a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil heating up right now and that's over medium high heat.
And, when working in batches with meats, I always like to start clockwise.
That way, I know which one I put down first, so, that'll be the one that's going to finish first or need to be turned first.
So I'm going to cook these on both sides, about 3 minutes per side, until the chicken registers 160°.
[ Sizzling ] It's been about 3 minutes, so I'm going to flip them over because they are nice and browned.
They're golden brown, just turning a little darker, and they look perfect.
So, again, I'm starting at 12 o'clock, working my way around the skillet.
Alright, this will take about 3 more minutes, until 160°.
Alright, I'm going to take the temperature and, again, I'm looking for 160°.
I'm going to transfer them to this plate here.
I'm going to put this aside and cover it with some aluminum foil.
I have some paper towels here because I need to wipe out the skillet.
So I have 2 more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
I'm going to return the heat on the pan to medium high.
This pan is going to come up to temperature pretty quickly.
I'm going to cook the second batch of chicken just like I cooked the first batch.
[ Sizzling ] The chicken is done cooking.
I went ahead and cleaned out the pan with those paper towels and, now, I'm going to add 2 more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the now-empty pan and heat it over medium high heat until shimmering.
So, while that's coming up to temperature, here is a red bell pepper, which is one of the signature elements of the original dish.
So, I'm going to prepare this just by slicing it thin.
But I need to stem and seed it first.
So, what I like to do is I just want to cut off the bottom.
And then, I like to just cut the sides off and I think of it as a square.
I do that again on this side, just like that.
One more time.
And now, you just have the membranes and the seed left.
I run my knife just along the membranes.
Now, if you have any leftover seeds, you can just wipe them away to the side.
And we're going to be, as I said, slicing this thinly.
Alright, so the oil is now shimmering, so I'm going to add the bell pepper to the pan and I'm going to add a little bit of salt.
We have 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
And I'm going to cook this pepper until it's nice and tender and well-browned, which will take 5 to 7 minutes.
Because it's scampi, you can imagine that we're going to be using a good amount of garlic in this recipe.
So, here, I have 8 cloves of garlic that I've sliced thinly and I'm going to add it to the pan here.
So I'm going to cook this until fragrant, which will take about 1 minute.
Alright, so it's definitely fragrant, at this stage.
And, now, I'm going to add the flour.
So, I have 1 tablespoon of flour and I'm going to just sprinkle it over the vegetables and this is going to act as a thickener for this sauce.
It's one of my favorite ways to thicken a sauce without having to make something like a roux, which can be a lot more time-consuming.
And just let it cook for about 1 minute, to take that raw flour bite out of it.
Now, I'm going to add 1.25 cups of some chicken broth.
[ Sizzling intensifies ] You want to go through and make sure to pick up any of the fond, or the brown bits at the bottom of the skillet, if there are any.
And then, here, I have 3/4 cup of white wine that I'm going to add just in there as well.
I'm going to bring this sauce up to a boil.
It looks like we're almost there.
And then, I'm going to let it continue to cook until it reduces down to 1.5 cups, which will take 5 to 7 minutes.
♪♪ This sauce is nice and reduced and, now, I'm going to just finish it by adding a little bit of butter.
I've got 4 tablespoons of butter, which I cut into four pieces.
And this is going to help just thicken the sauce ever so slightly.
And it's also going to provide a little bit more richness, too.
So I'm going to stir this until the butter has melted.
It smells so good.
Here are my chicken tenders, that have been waiting very patiently.
And, now, I'm going to return all of them to the skillet and I want to toss to coat them because we are almost done.
And we're still on low heat.
So you want to just let them get nice and coated and let them hang out in the sauce for about 2 minutes.
The chicken is nice and coated and, now, I'm going to transfer it to this beautiful serving platter.
So we can try and put the chicken down first.
Oh, my goodness.
This smells so good.
Now, let's top it with the sauce.
No garlic slices left behind on my watch.
The finishing touch is a little bit of parsley.
I have 1 tablespoon of some chopped fresh parsley.
Just want to sprinkle it all over.
Alright, I'm going to grab a tender and some pepper.
Get some of that sauce.
And the texture of this sauce, it's like velvet.
And it's because we added that flour and a little bit of butter.
And, this dish, you can serve it with pasta, but you can also serve it with some crusty bread, which is what I'm going to be serving it with today.
Let's do this.
That is so good.
The peppers, the butter, the garlic.
It's rich, but not too rich.
The peppers are super tender.
That parsley gives it a little bit of freshness at the end and the acidity from the white wine, and that chicken broth.
This is absolutely delicious.
So, for a light chicken scampi, coat the chicken with egg and flour, add a lot of thinly sliced garlic, and then finish with a little bit of butter.
From "Cook's Country," a great chicken scampi.
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