French Onion Soup Gratinee

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is one of my favorites and I’ve tried it out at countless restaurants over the years. Some have been delicious, some have been just okay and others have tasted like dish water. But this recipe right here is top-notch! I am heads over heels in love with this version and it’s the only one I make in my kitchen. This soup is rich, beefy, and has such a nice complex flavor. It’s an amazing dish to have on a cold winters night, just add a crusty loaf of bread and a nice glass of wine and you have a perfect evening meal!

When making this dish, make sure you take the time to fully caramelize the onions. It’s the “hardest” step of this soup but it will yield an incredible flavor when it’s finished. Wine is also called for in this recipe, I almost always use Bogle Merlot but by all means, use whatever red wine is your favorite or that you have on hand. Lastly, don’t feel obligated to stick to only mozzarella cheese on top. I am always changing up what cheese I use and sometimes I use a blend. My favorites are Gruyère, Asiago, Parmesan, and of course, mozzarella. You can’t go wrong with any of these! Also, don’t hesitate to throw in a little extra red wine or Worcestershire sauce, it only makes it that much more delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 5 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 lg red onions, sliced thin
  • 2 lg vidalia onions, sliced thin 
  • 48 oz chicken stock (I prefer the Kitchen Basics brand
  • 14 oz beef broth
  • 3/4 cup good red wine
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce 
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley 
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme 
  • 1-2 bay leaves 
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 4 thick slices of rustic, crusty bread
  • 8 slices of Gruyère
  • 8 slices of mozzarella
  • Parmesan, for sprinkling

Instructions

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in salt, pepper, and onions. Cook 35 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramelized and almost syrupy. If the onions start to stick to the pan too much, lower the heat and add a little extra butter.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Add in the Worcestershire, chicken stock and beef broth. Bundle the herbs in a tea strainer or cheesecloth and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer over medium heat for about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the herb bundle, add the vinegar and adjust seasonings. Cover and keep on low while you prepare the bowls.

Preheat broiler. Place 4 oven safe bowls on a sturdy cookie sheet. Place one slice of bread in each bowl and then ladle in the soup. Top with cheese. Broil until brown and bubbly. Serve hot.

 

 

 

Meatloaf – Pioneer Woman Style

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For years and years I’ve used my same “go-to” meatloaf recipe that I love. It’s beefy, has a nice onion flavor and everyone in my house loves it. But yesterday, I decided to go out on a limb and try something completely different after I came across this meatloaf recipe from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. I love her cookbooks, she has so many meals and desserts that are interesting and delicious. This particular meatloaf recipe is from, “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl“, her first cookbook. You can get this cookbook on Amazon, just click below!

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

At first I was a little hesitant mainly because I detest ketchup and this recipe called for a sauce made from ketchup. I was actually pleasantly surprised though, after the meatloaf was cooked the sauce took on a really nice sticky, spicy BBQ quality which added great flavor to the meatloaf. The one thing I’d do differently the next time I make this meal would be to run the bacon slices down the length of the meatloaf as opposed to running them across and tucking them under. The top of the bacon was delicious and nicely cooked but the ends of the bacon that were tucked under the meatloaf remained barely cooked and “blubbery” which I found to be inedible. There is nothing worse than inedible bacon!!!

Overall, this was a really good meatloaf and was well received by my family. It has more of a meatball flavor rather than the beefy onion flavor I’m use to from a meatloaf due in part to the parsley and Parmesan cheese. Also, because soaked bread was used instead of breadcrumbs the meatloaf had a really nice texture and structurally, it was perfect! It sliced beautifully and stayed together even after only letting it rest for about 15 minutes. Can’t wait to eat the leftovers today!

Ingredients

For the meatloaf

  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 slices of bread
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 8-12 thin bacon slices

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 6 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • Dash or two of hot sauce

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the milk over the bread until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, milk soaked bread, Parmesan cheese, salt, seasoned salt, black pepper, and parsley. Pour in the beaten eggs and with clean hands, mix until combined.

Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place on top of a broiler pan which will allow the fat from the meat and bacon to drain away. Line the bottom of the broiler pan with aluminum foil for easier clean up.

Lay the bacon slices across the top of the meatloaf and tuck the ends underneath.

Next, make the tomato sauce. Combine the ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard and hot sauce. Mix well.

Pour 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the top of the meatloaf and spread. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove meatloaf from the oven, pour another 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the top and spread. Place back in oven and cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for about 15 minutes. Serve the remainder of the tomato sauce on the side.

**NOTE** – Oven temps vary so adjust your cooking time accordingly. I cooked this meatloaf for an additional 20 minutes and it came out beautifully. Generally speaking, I think an hour is a little too short on time for a meatloaf of this size. 

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