Calendar of Posts

July 2024

Katie Davis



A Look Back

On Twitter

Contact Katie

Recipe of the Month – Stuffed…Literally!

Thursday, April 1, 2010 @ 09:04 AM


100_1190 I apologize if I have thrown any of you off (as I know you all wait with bated breath each week for my standard Wednesday posts ;)), but I started a job a little over a month ago and I was finding myself stressing on Tuesdays trying to get my post ready for Wednesday.  Well,  as it happens, I have Wednesdays off, and it recently dawned on me…”duh, I have the whole next day off, why don’t I write it then?”  So although I may be introducing a shock to the system, PCC will post on Thursdays from now on (or at least until some other obstacle gets in my way. 🙂

By now, most of you know one of the goals each month is to feature a pop culture recipe.  Although I have only written about one thus far, I honestly get the impression that these features are not as exciting for you readers.  Still, I can’t abandon an experiment after just one trial, so I will continue to write them once a month for at least this month and possibly next to see how they fare with you readers out there (so let me know).  With all that being said, I bring you the Recipe of the Month for April (or recipes in this case)…

Being the overzealous experimental cook that I am, I thought it might be fun to center this month’s recipe around my dad’s birthday (end of February).  I chose a  variety of options from various chefs and let my dad choose which sounded the best to him, being his birthday and all.  He chose Giada De Laurentiis’ “Stuffed Meatloaf,” Tyler Florence’s “Roasted Fingerling Potatoes,” and Ina Garten’s “Roasted Artichoke Salad.”  Also, in addition to all of that, Adam and my mom put together a lovely antipasto platter to munch on while we were cooking and gathering.  I will say it now, this may have been too daunting for a newby “chef” like myself; and only following one tough recipe might have been a better course of action.  Let me explain…

We arrived at my parent’s house early Saturday afternoon.  Originally the goal was take our time cooking at have dinner early in the evening.  This shouldn’t be a problem…right? 😉  We had already done all of our grocery shopping and given the timeline on each of the recipes.  On paper, this was all very doable.  So, we got started; and while worked away in the kitchen, the antipasto platter came together quickly and helped us get out “munchies’” under control.100_1193You have to admit…the antipasto turned out great!  And, it really did the trick to keep our appetites under control.  Little did we know that it would need to hold them for quite so long, but I’ll come back and explain that.

The first recipe I tackled was the Artichoke Salad.  Originally, I had planned to add it alongside the antipasto, as I had seen Ina Garten do this on an episode of The Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa.” However, at the last minute I thought it would taste better the longer it sat, as well as go well with the main course.

Roasted Artichoke Salad

2008, Ina Garten, All Rights Reserved

Prep Time:
30 min
Inactive Prep Time:
30 min
Cook Time:
20 min
6 servings


  • 4 boxes (9 ounces each) frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 5 tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 6 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 2 jars roasted red peppers, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 pinches hot red pepper flakes, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the artichoke hearts in a bowl with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss until the artichoke hearts are coated. Dump the artichoke hearts onto a sheet pan and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Place the minced shallot, lemon juice, mustard, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the basil leaves and process into a green puree. With the processor running, slowly pour 1/2 cup olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube until the ingredients are finely pureed. Set aside.

Place the roasted artichoke hearts in a bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Add the capers, red peppers, red onion, parsley, 4 tablespoons vinegar and red pepper flakes, if using, and toss gently. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and let stand for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.


100_1210This recipe was stellar!  I didn’t know I loved artichokes so much; and it really gave a bright pop to our table.  I don’t know why I was so surprised.  All the recipes from Ina I have tried have been grand.  That lady surely does know what she is doing.  The mix of flavors between the red peppers, capers, citrus, vinegar, and onion was such a wonderful blend of acid and saltiness that truly complemented the texture of the artichokes themselves; and we all agreed that by letting this dish sit longer (except for my wonderful husband who is afraid of vegetables :)), the artichokes were able to soak up the flavor a million times better.

Next, we prepared the fingerling potatoes and began their roasting process.  We wanted to roast them up until the meatloaf needed to go into the oven and then we would finish up the roasting process at the end.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Herbs and Garlic

Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence, 2008

Prep Time:
5 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
20 min
2 to 4 servings


  • 2 pints fingerling potatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 cloves garlic, left unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus for sheet pan
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and place a baking sheet inside to heat.

Add potatoes, rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic to a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Remove sheet pan from oven, lightly coat with olive oil, and pour potatoes onto pan. Place potatoes in oven and reduce heat to 425 degrees F. Roast for 20 minutes, or until crispy on outside and tender on inside.


100_1208 This dish turned out well, but was not spectacular.  The picture above may be deceiving, because although they looked extremely mouthwatering, we all had to admit that they did not pack a huge flavor punch.  The sad part is I think they tasted like they were supposed to; and given the amount of fresh herbs, I was expecting a lot more flavor.  Instead, I was left wanting to mash them up and add lots of butter! 🙂  And unfortunately, at this point in the night, we were all so hungry that I don’t think that potatoes are what were going to get the job done, which brings me to our final dish…the one that put a wrench in my whole plan.

Originally when I looked at all of these recipes, I thought eating between 6 and 7 was going to be very doable given how much time the recipes SAID they took to cook.  However, by 6 that evening I knew that this was not going to be possible, and when we began creating the meatloaf, little did we know just how NOT POSSIBLE it would be! 🙂

Stuffed Meatloaf

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 10 min
8 to 10 servings


Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta:
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

  • Meatloaf
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 8 ounces ground veal
  • 2 cups (packed) Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta, recipe follows, or your favorite stuffing
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 3/4 cup grated provolone

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the Parmesan and bread crumbs. Mix in the beef, pork, and veal. Pack half of the meat mixture into a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. Spoon the stuffing over the meat in the pan, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Top with the remaining meat mixture, enclosing the stuffing completely and pressing firmly. Spoon the marinara sauce over the meatloaf, then sprinkle with the provolone cheese.

Bake, uncovered, until the meat loaf is firm to the touch in the center and has pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes. Cut crosswise into slices and serve.


100_1209 Looks pretty gosh darn good don’t it?  Well…we’ll get there, but let me just say that this was a (insert bad word) to make, and not in a ‘it turned out so good that it was worth the labor’ sort of way.  First, let’s start back a bit before 6 when we had gotten all of the ingredients for this recipe prepped.  As you will notice from the pictures, this meatloaf is not short on ingredients.  In fact, the stuffing alone (making it the stuffed meatloaf) was a ton; and on top of the 3 types of meat and mixings required made this not an easy dish to put together.  Giada claims she can make this all in an 1 1/2 hours.  I’m calling bull on that!  Heck, the mixing and creating of the stuffing for inside the meatloaf took almost that long as is; and when we finally got that into the recommended pan, we were scratching our heads as to how that much stuffing was ever going to possibly fit into one meatloaf?

100_1196As you can see, that is a 9X13 pans-worth of homemade stuffing that is then supposed to bake and fit inside a standard loaf pans-worth of meat…yeah right!  Still, I went along with the recipe and was going to wait and see how this was going to work.  So…


…let’s just say, It didn’t work out very well.  I mean, come on…we only used (maybe) 1/4 of the pan, and although the stuffing was really good, who honestly wants to keep finding ways to incorporate stuffing into their meals night after night?  This was cooked over a month ago and I still have some in my freezer! 🙂


When I looked at how much actually fit into the pan (above), I just started laughing.  I mean…after all that physical work, it just became comical that we made that much stuffing to only use so little.  So needless to say, I was already in a bit of a flabbergasted state.  Additionally, at this point it was close to 7 and we didn’t even have the meatloaf into the oven, and it was supposed to cook for 45 minutes!  This was the point when I began to get discouraged and the perfectionist in me kept apologizing because I really wanted this meal to turn out great, being that my dad had opted for my cooking over going out to a restaurant.  Luckily, my family is super understanding and it became one of those funny experiences we will look back on and laugh at.

Well, 45 minutes later…, IT WAS STILL RAW (this was getting really ridiculous.  I guess I’m no Giada), so it ended up taking about 20 – 25 more to fully get cooked through.   At this point we were all pretty tired, hungry, not so hungry, and ready to sit down and just enjoy something.100_1213Finally, we got to eat this project of a meal, and I’d say it was edible at best.  There were just too many ingredients and too much going on.  Part of it tasted like traditional meatloaf, part tasted like fancy stuffing, and then the top part tasted like this rich Italian dish.  It was just weird.  None of the flavors went together at all; and I’d say the group consensus was that the meatloaf…not very good.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this whole cooking experience.  It’s possible that I had too high of hopes for myself, but my mom agreed that these dishes, mostly just the meatloaf, required a lot of work and just were not reasonable for the home cook.  Also, what was more frustrating was that all of these dishes required a fair amount of ingredients, none of which we were able to find all at one store.  In fact, some of the ingredients (chestnuts…we used hazelnuts instead) we couldn’t find at all; and by the time all was said and done, we had spent almost as much if not more than we would have at a nice restaurant.

Of the three dishes I made I would only make the ‘Artichoke Salad’ again.  It was seriously tasty, easy, affordable, and worth eating.  The other two I would pass on and were neither tasty enough nor worth the hassle.  So…after all that hassle, I give each dish the following score:

Ina Garten’s “Roasted Artichoke Salad” – 5 Little Piggies pig-iconpig-iconpig-iconpig-iconpig-icon

Tyler Florence’s “Roasted Fingerling Potatoes” – 3 Little Piggies pig-icon pig-iconpig-icon

Giada De Laurentiis’ “Stuffed Meatloaf” – 1/2 Little Piggy pig-icon half

One Response to “Recipe of the Month – Stuffed…Literally!”

  1. […] Follow this link: Recipe of the Month – Stuffed…Literally! « Pop Culture Cuisine […]