Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chicken meatloaf with Thai curry and cabbage

Those who occasionally read this blog or dine at our table know that this is not the way I usually cook.  It is inspired by my cousin Ronnie (who may even go by "Ron" now though it doesn't sound right) who has had the most successful sustained weight loss of almost anyone I know.  The last time I saw him he told me about this chicken meatloaf that he made with Thai curry, thai basil, and cabbage, but said that from one time to the next he couldn't remember how he made it, so he asked me to work out a recipe and blog about it.  So, here it is:

Chicken Meatloaf with Thai curry and cabbage

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, quartered and sliced
  • 1 pound green cabbage, shredded fine (about a quart)
  • salt
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (optional -- I had them in the fridge)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste  (I use Thai Kitchen, which is vegan and has a nice lemongrass/lime aroma;  other brands may have shrimp paste); 1 tablespoon will give just the hint of a curry flavor, 2 will be much stronger
  • 1 3/4 pounds (i.e. 28 ounces) ground white meat chicken
  • 5 - 10 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a broad knife and crushed to a puree with a little salt
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten.
  • 1 teaspoon Bragg's aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander (Ronnie used Thai basil since he lives in Florida and says that it grows like a weed in his yard.  There have to be some advantages in living in Florida.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions

  • Saute the onion in the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet until golden.  Add cabbage, salt lightly, and saute on high, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is brown.  (The browner the better, but you can stop when you want.)  It will lose lots of volume.  Toward the end, add the shredded carrots.  Depending on your patience, the process will take between 10 and 30 minutes. Be careful not to burn the vegetables.
  • Turn the heat down to low and add the tablespoon of curry paste.  Stir to incorporate it well and  cook for a few minutes until it no longer smells raw.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Add the sauteed vegetables and incorporate well into the mixture.  
  • Turn into a loaf pan that will hold all the contents, sprayed with oil spray so that it will not stick.
  • Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 
  • Serves 6-8.  This is great served with Sriracha sauce, or a combo of Sriracha and ketchup.
Burning questions:

What's with the ground chicken?  Basically, it's the calories.  Usually I have limited tolerance for ground up bird, and find it dry and uninteresting.  However, this dish is only 5 WeighWatchers PointsPlus (even with the canola oil to saute the veggies) which is almost nothing, and is low in calories and high in protein.  The chicken has a pleasant and delicate flavor.  By itself, it can be as dry as sawdust, but with the sauteed vegetables and eggs, it is very moist.

Do I need to saute the vegetables?  Not really, but it will be much tastier if you do.  The onions and the cabbage caramelize and add a lot of flavor to the loaf.  Also, the canola oil adds relatively few calories to the final dish, and is a very healthy oil.  The chicken is so lean that a bit of fat helps to make it juicy.  It is a common misconception that the sensation of juiciness is a result of the amount of water in the food.  Rather, it is a result of salivation, which moistens the mouth when you eat, and which is a reaction to fat, and to a lesser extent salt in the food.  (See Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking.)


  1. Alan, what do you like to serve it with?

  2. Don't you think this would work with turkey too?

  3. @Susan -- turkey would probably be fine, as would any very lean ground meat. The cabbage saute keeps it moist.
    @Elizabeth -- we had it with whatever we had in the fridge from CSA and market: daikon, cucumber and tomato salad w dill; sauteed escarole w anchovy , pine nuts and raisins, and the wonderful white Japanese sweet potatoes that I first learned about from Margaret. If I was planning from scratch, I would probably serve with a red cabbage or Nappa asian slaw (check out my recipe for Vietnamese slaw); a simple veg sauteed w garlic, and brown rice or those sweets. The leftovers will also make great banh mi!