Leslie Meredith, Challenge 3

  • Leslie Meredith made Meatloaf al Pastor with crispy cauli-shroom tots for the third challenge in the 2019 Cook of the Week Challenge.

    Leslie Meredith made Meatloaf al Pastor with crispy cauli-shroom tots for the third challenge in the 2019 Cook of the Week Challenge. COURTESY OF LESLIE MEREDITH

 
Updated 10/22/2019 3:10 PM

I had some personal upsets this week, which is probably why I was drawn to a unique take on classic comfort foods -- meatloaf and Tater Tots.

This was the first time I made meatloaf, as I'm not a big meat eater. But I love Mexican cooking, so I was excited to see where the al pastor flavors might lead. I was able to incorporate all four mystery ingredients into the meatloaf, and three of them into the tots, without forcing anything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Leslie Meredith of Arlington Heights
Leslie Meredith of Arlington Heights

I got to make another garden run to spice things up with poblano and yellow jalapeno peppers, tomatillos and garlic. Those veggies were a better match for the pork than the traditional carrots and celery. The cauliflower base for the side came from the farmers market. With their cheesy, garlicky goodness, I didn't miss the potato one bit in these tots. The ketchup is tasty as is, but I wanted to kick up the heat with some chipotle. This turned out to be a deeply satisfying meal, deliciously different from the blander traditional versions.

Home cooks would not need to grind meat, or popcorn, to accomplish similar dishes. Ground pork and bread are timesaving substitutes. And riced cauliflower is readily available in the frozen aisle at the supermarket. With those swaps, this becomes a doable weeknight family dinner.

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