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In praise of the embutido

Meatloaf may be old-fashioned but it remains a classic that's lovingly reinterpreted for its simplicity and versatility

Photo from Inquirer Lifestyle

The simplest dishes are often the best, and proof of this is the humble meatloaf. It’s practically just a log of minced meat, peppered with whatever ingredients and techniques are available in the country it is adapted in. 

In South Africa, there’s bobotie, which is spiced with curry and topped with eggs, while in the Middle East, the meat, made typically with lamb, clings onto sticks as they are grilled. Indonesia has otak-otak where fish replaces beef, and, instead of being baked, is wrapped in banana leaves then kissed by hot charcoal. Another technique used is steaming, like on the Chinese zheng rou bing, which is composed of pork and scallions. There are many other variations: Vietnam has gio, Bulgaria has rulo Stefani, Chile has asado aleman, Italy has polpettone, and our country has embutido, the egg-imbedded, raisin-speckled meatloaf of our youth.

Believed to have been introduced during the American occupancy, the embutido is one underrated dish that is usually reserved for special occasions. But its simplicity begs for its regularity. Its level of difficulty is akin to a boxed mix: You just toss everything into a bowl, make sure they’re well-combined, wrap in foil, and steam; cooking it doesn’t involve any live flame.

Best of all, it’s a dish that adjusts to your liking. Substitute big chicken eggs for smaller quail eggs for aesthetics, throw in chopped nuts for texture, slather on banana ketchup for a slightly sweet flavor—embutido, or any type of meatloaf for that matter, can be designed to suit your palette, and it is for these reasons why it deserves prevalence and more credit than it is given. You can start giving the embutido its due by preparing this easy recipe.

EMBUTIDO

Serves 6

Prep time: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

500 grams ground lean ground pork 

8 slices sweet ham, chopped to small pieces

60 grams green bell pepper, chopped to small pieces

60 grams red bell pepper, chopped to small pieces

60 g. carrots, chopped to small pieces

4 cloves of garlic, minced

50 grams white onion, chopped to small pieces

80 grams cheddar cheese, grated

50 grams raisins

2 tbsp. pickle relish

2 tbsp. mayonnaise 

100 ml tomato ketchup

50 grams breadcrumbs

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

1 large egg, beaten

16 pieces quail eggs, hard-boiled

EQUIPMENT

Mixing bowl

Rubber spatula

Foil

Steamer

PROCEDURE

1. Prepare all ingredients. To cook quail eggs, place them in boiling water for two minutes. Remove from pot and place in a bowl of iced water to stop from cooking.

2. Place ground pork in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix with spatula, making sure everything is well combined. Cover bowl with cling film and let mixture sit in the chiller for 15 minutes.

3. Divide the mixture into two. Place one in the middle of an aluminum foil and flatten. Place quail eggs in a row in the center. Chicken eggs can also be used. 

4. Gently roll the foil to form a log, securing the eggs in the middle of the embutido. Once done, twist the edges of the foil. Do the same with the remaining mixture.

5. Place embutido in the steamer and cook for 45 minutes. Once cooked, let rest for a few minutes before removing from foil. Serve.

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