Friday, June 3, 2011

Mexican Chicken Meatloaf

I thought I'd stray from the usual bread post today (I hope that's OK), since I was so excited about coming up with my own meatloaf recipe that tasted really, very good.  I don't often successfully come up with my own dishes, but since I'm becoming a better baker & cook, it does happen a little more often.

It all started when I asked my husband what he wanted in the way of meals for the rest of the week.  I don't often ask him this question, as I invariably get 'meatloaf' as one of his answers, which is what happened on this occasion.  Now there is nothing wrong with meatloaf, it's just that I have no favorite meatloaf recipe right now - except possibly one.  However, it was hot again yesterday, near 88°, and ground beef in a meatloaf just didn't sound good to me.  I thought, 'but maybe, I could use ground chicken and come up with my own mexican type/style meatloaf'.

The one meatloaf recipe that I can say I'm still happy with, is a Mexican Meatloaf from Taste of Home's Cooking for Two.  Two of my main criteria for a good meatloaf is, 1) it must be moist, and 2) it must have good flavor with ingredients that go well together.  (I have had some rather strange, meatloaves this past winter in my search for some favorite recipes).

I wanted to incorporate aspects of the above mentioned mexican meatloaves, but come up with a recipe that used fresh produce, at least one fresh herb, and had good seasoning.  I don't buy packaged taco seasonings any longer (except for chicken taco seasoning from Penzey's), so I would have to use some of the spices in my cupboard to get that taco flavor.  This past year I discovered Emeril's Taco Bar recipe, which I have been using whenever I happen to make beef tacos, and I love his use of the ground cumin and ground chipotle pepper to create that taco like flavor.  For the fresh herb, I didn't have to think too hard or long on that, because cilantro is my favorite fresh herb, and I had lots of it in the fridge.  Cooking for two can be a challenge at times, and although I wanted to use some tomatoes in my meatloaf, I didn't want to open a can of diced tomatoes and end up wasting some of them.  I decided on using organic roma tomatoes, from Whole Foods, which have been really good the past month or so.  They taste like they're straight from the garden (kind of).  So here is my take on a good mexican meatloaf, using ground chicken instead of beef, for a lighter, more summery type meatloaf:

Mexican Chicken Meatloaf
(makes 2 individual sized meatloaves)
created by Melanie with a little inspiration from above mentioned recipes

1/2 of 1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup crushed, tortilla chips (just put a handful in a sandwich bag, seal, & crush with a rolling pin)
1/2 cup peeled, diced organic roma tomatoes (see *Note)
2 Tbsp finely diced onion
1 Tbsp diced green pepper, or other pepper of your choice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/8 cup salsa, (any heat level you prefer)
3/8 tsp Chipotle Chile Pepper (I used McCormick Brand from their Gourmet Collection)
1 tsp ground cumin (I used Penzey's cumin seed, India Ground)
1 Tbsp minced, fresh cilantro
1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 lb of ground chicken

*Note- to peel tomatoes I cut an 'X' lightly with a knife at the stem end of the tomato, place the tomato in boiling water for 10-15 seconds, cool slightly, then peel off the skin with your fingers.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place egg in a large bowl, add crushed chips, tomato, onion, pepper, garlic, salsa, chipotle pepper, cumin, cilantro, cheese, and kosher salt.  Stir to combine.  Add the ground chicken and gently mix with a spoon to incorporate the wetter ingredients.  Finish combining gently with your hands, then divide the mixture into two portions (this recipe makes two individual meatloaves).  Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and lay the individual meatloaves in the dish making sure to leave at least an inch between them for even cooking. 

Bake, uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until a probe thermometer inserted into the center of a meatloaf reads 160°, which is the doneness temperature for ground meats.
From the first bite, hubby said this was really good, and it's hard for me to get a compliment from him, so when I do, I know its pretty good.  When all the different varieties of peppers start showing up at the farmers market by mid-summer, I'm going to experiment with different types of peppers in the meatloaf, perhaps a 'hot' poblano type pepper, roasted, skinned and diced.  You could serve this meatloaf with some homemade tomatillo salsa and chips, and maybe some spiced, roasted potatoes and I think the guy(s) at your table would be very pleased :)

Thank you for visiting my blog and if you're in need of a meal idea for next week, like I was this past, maybe you could give this a try.


  1. That looks like a cracker of a meal Melanie, it would go down well here I think. I love using cumin and cilantro which we call coriander is one of my favourite herbs, we are trying once again to grow some ,but it is not the easiest for us for some reason :)

  2. Hi, Joanna
    I have never had much luck with growing cilantro/coriander either. I finally gave up and just buy mine organic. I recently read, I think, that cilantro is a cold weather herb. Since our springs here go from cool to very hot and steamy quite abruptly, maybe that's the reason I never had luck.