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My memories of meatloaf are probably better than average. As a kid I always enjoyed it (with lots of ketchup), particularly as a reheated slab slapped between two pieces of toasted bread (with lots more ketchup). Soft breadcrumbs and a gentle hand kept the meat from getting tough, and it was never overbaked. My only complaint was my family's heavy handed dose of dried thyme, which made it taste like stuffing.
Beef has always been king when I think of a flavorful and hearty meatloaf, but I wanted to see what I could do with chicken. Because it's much more mild than beef, I could have gone two ways with this recipe: work the natural flavors of the chicken with delicate, subtle seasonings, or blast it out with big, intense flavors. This time I chose the latter with a Southwest theme and a fun take on chicken enchiladas.
For the flavor base, I sautéed a sofrito of onion, red pepper, jalapeños, and garlic. For spice I mixed up a version of taco seasoning: cumin, oregano, coriander, and cayenne (use chili if you'd like). Then I tossed in ground chicken, chopped cilantro, lime juice, shredded cheddar cheese, chicken broth, and egg. Instead of the usual white breadcrumb filler, I crushed a few handfuls of corn tortilla chips for a unique enchilada flavor. I stuffed it all in a loaf pan and baked it. After 30 minutes I slathered a tangy purée of fresh tomatillos over the top (in place of the usual ketchup or tomato sauce) and continued to bake it until the chicken was completely cooked through. This took an hour in a loaf pan—a fair bit longer than I'd expected (next time I'd pick a more shallow pan). This was an absolutely delicious version of meatloaf that's fun to eat and destined to make even the most resistant meatloaf haters come to the other side.
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About the author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore working on her new baking cookbook, and as a recipe developer for HungryGoWhere Singapore. Check out her blog, shophousecook.com, or follow her on Twitter @yvonneruperti.