Excerpted from From the Ground Up: Hundreds of Amazing Recipes from Around the World for Ground Meats by James Villas.

American Meat Loaf Deluxe

Makes 8 servings

Suffice it to say that after experimenting with all-American meat loaves for most of a lifetime, I’ve concluded that this is not only the ultimate moist, full-flavored, crusty loaf but also unquestionably the supreme tribute to not one but four ground meats. Tamper with the ingredients at your own risk, and do remember that if you overmix them, you’ll probably end up with a tough loaf. Meat loaf baked in a loaf pan will be crusty on top but soft on the sides, while one baked free-form (my preference) will have overall crustiness. As for gravy, there is no gravy. Great meat loaf requires no gravy. Do not serve gravy with this meat loaf.


5 tablespoons butter

1/2 pound large mushrooms, stems finely chopped and caps reserved

1 large onion, finely chopped

1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled

1 pound ground beef round or rump

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground veal

1/2 pound bulk pork sausage

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup ketchup

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup fresh bread crumbs, soaked in 1/2 cup heavy cream

3 slices bacon

Pimento-stuffed green olives, cut in half


1. In a medium skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over moderate heat, add the mushroom stems, and stir for about 5 minutes or till most of their liquid has evaporated. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, thyme, and rosemary; reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or till the vegetables are soft and the liquid has evaporated.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

3. Place the meats in a large bowl, add the cooked vegetables, and mix lightly. Add the mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt and pepper, eggs, and bread crumbs and mix with your hands till blended thoroughly. Shape the mixture into a firm oval loaf, place in a shallow baking or gratin dish, drape the bacon over the top, and bake for 1 hour in the upper third of the oven. Remove the bacon strips and continue baking 15 to 20 minutes longer, depending on how thick the loaf is and how crusty you want the exterior to be.

4. Shortly before the meat loaf is removed from the oven, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over moderate heat, add the reserved mushroom caps, and stir till nicely glazed, about 2 minutes. Transfer the meat loaf to a large, heated platter, arrange the olives over the top, and garnish the edges with the mushroom caps.

Parmesan Turkey Hash with Olives

Makes 4 servings

I often think that the noble turkey exists mainly to make sumptuous sandwiches, salads, hashes, and casseroles with the leftovers, and nothing illustrates the principle better than this crusty hash enhanced with black olives, tarragon, and Parmesan cheese. The hash is great as is for a casual brunch or Sunday supper, but to make it a bit more elegant, you can either sprinkle a few extra tablespoons of Parmesan on the top and glaze the hash quickly under the broiler, or you can serve the portions topped with poached eggs sprinkled lightly with paprika. As with any good hash, the interior of this one should remain slightly soft and moist, while the exteriors should be nicely browned and crusted.


2 tablespoons bacon grease

1 medium onion, minced

1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded and minced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups finely diced cooked turkey

2 cups mashed potatoes

1/2 cup finely diced pitted black olives

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the bacon grease over moderate heat, add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook, stirring, till softened, about 8 minutes. Add the turkey, potatoes, and olives and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes longer. Add the cheese, parsley, tarragon, and salt and pepper and stir till well blended.

2. Using a heavy spatula, press the mixture down and let cook till a brown crust forms on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Using two heavy spatulas, carefully flip the hash over in the skillet and cook till the other side is crusted, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Slide the hash onto a plate, cut into 4 portions, and serve immediately.

Salisbury Steaks with Wild Mushroom Gravy

Makes 4 servings

Named for the nineteenth-century English doctor J. H. Salisbury, who advocated eating beef three times a day for sound health, Salisbury steak is considered to be the ancestor of the hamburger. Abused over the decades with soup mixes, bouillon cubes, and gloppy canned mushroom gravy, the steak is sublime when prepared with care and imagination and becomes testimony to the glory of ground meat. Treat it with the same respect you would a perfect burger. If you have fresh beef stock on hand for the gravy, so much the better, and do feel free to experiment with various types of wild mushrooms.


2 slices bacon, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 pounds ground beef round or sirloin

1 small onion, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter

10 small shiitake mushrooms, chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups beef broth


1. In a large skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat till almost crisp. Drain on paper towels, and remove the pan from the heat, leaving the fat in the skillet.

2. In a large bowl, combine the beef, bacon, onion, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper and mix lightly with your hands till well blended. Form the mixture into 4 oval steaks about 1 inch thick. Return the pan to the heat, add the steaks, and cook in the bacon fat for about 6 minutes on each side. Transfer the steaks to a heated platter and cover with foil to keep warm.

3. Melt the butter in the skillet, add the mushrooms, and stir till tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the top, season with salt and pepper, and stir 2 minutes longer. Add the broth, increase the heat slightly, and stir till the gravy thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Serve the steaks with equal amounts of the gravy spooned over the tops.

Sherried Turkey Hash Cakes

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Who says that leftover holiday turkey can’t be turned into a simple but sophisticated dish guaranteed to impress both family and finicky guests? And for variety, you can use equal amounts of ground turkey and baked ham, flavor the cakes with hot mustard or a little curry powder, and even add a few ground toasted almonds or water chestnuts. I like to serve these cakes with red cabbage coleslaw, hot corn sticks, and either a fine California Chardonnay or a spicy Alsatian Riesling.


2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds cooked turkey, chopped (about 3 cups)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium celery rib, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

3 large eggs, 2 beaten

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons dry sherry

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups very fine bread crumbs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly, and cook till the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and puree with a potato masher or heavy fork. Add half the butter in pieces and beat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon till light and fluffy.

2. In a food processor, grind the turkey, onion, celery, and bell pepper to a medium texture and transfer to the bowl of potatoes. Add the unbeaten egg, cream, sherry, and salt and pepper, and beat till the mixture is smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the mixture for about 30 minutes.

3. Shape the mixture into 4 to 6 oval cakes, dust each evenly in the flour, dip into the beaten eggs, roll evenly in the bread crumbs, cover again, and chill about 30 minutes longer.

4. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons butter with the oil over moderate heat, add the cakes, and cook till golden brown and crusty, 4 to 5 minutes.

5. Serve hot.

Country Ham Croquettes with Mustard Sauce

Makes 6 servings

Croquettes made with ordinary baked ham are classic and always good, but when leftover aged country ham is used and the croquettes served with a tangy mustard sauce, the result is truly memorable. As with most croquettes, feel free to experiment with a few olives, capers, sweet pickles, and the like if you want additional flavor sensations, and for ideal firm texture, it’s a good idea not only to grind the ham as finely as possible (though not to a paste) but also to chill the mixture overnight before forming the cylinders. Since the ham will be salty, no salt is needed in this recipe.

Ingredients for the sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for the croquettes:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

3 scallions (white parts only), finely chopped

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dredging

1 1/2 cups milk

4 cups finely ground cooked country ham

3 large egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon powdered sage

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water

2 cups fine dry bread crumbs

Peanut oil for deep frying


1. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, add the flour, and stir till a smooth paste forms. Gradually add the milk, stirring till thickened and smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mustard, vinegar, and pepper, stir vigorously till well blended, and keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

2. To make the croquettes, melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat, add the scallions and flour, and whisk till soft and well blended, about 2 minutes. Whisking rapidly, add the milk till well blended; add the ham, stir well, and remove from the heat. Whisking rapidly, add the egg yolks, return to the heat, add the sage and pepper, and whisk till well blended. Scrape the mixture into a dish, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

3. With your hands, divide the mixture into 6 balls and roll lightly in the extra flour. Pat the balls into smooth oval croquettes, dip briefly into the egg mixture, dredge in the bread crumbs, and place on a plate till ready to fry.

4. In a large, heavy skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil over moderately high heat for about 1 minute. Fry the croquettes till golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side, and drain briefly on paper towels.

5. Serve the croquettes hot with the mustard sauce on the side.