Mexicana Meatloaf with Cilantro Pesto and Crispy Tortilla Strips

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 30 min
  • Active: 1 hr 20 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Mexicana Meatloaf:

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup milk 

8 ounces brisket, cut into 1-inch cubes 

8 ounces sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion

1/4 cup finely diced carrot

1/4 cup finely diced celery

1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano 

1 teaspoon ancho chile powder 

1 pound fresh chorizo, casing removed 

1 egg, beaten

One 16-ounce can black beans, drained 

One 15-ounce can sweet corn, drained 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Cilantro Pesto:

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves 

1/4 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), toasted 

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 

2 cloves garlic

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese 

1/2 cup grated Parmesan 

Crispy Tortilla Strips:

Canola oil, for frying

6 corn tortillas, sliced into thin strips 

Kosher salt 


  1. For the meatloaf: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together the panko and milk and set aside.
  2. Place the brisket and sirloin on a baking sheet and transfer to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to firm up. (This will make grinding cleaner and easier.) Grind the meat in a food processor or bench top grinder, following manufacturer's instructions. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the ground beef until ready to use.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, poblano and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions turn translucent. Add the cumin, oregano and ancho powder and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the ground beef, the chorizo, the milk-soaked panko, and the egg, black beans and corn. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix until just combined (don't overwork the meat). Transfer the meatloaf mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet and shape into a free-form loaf. Bake until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the cilantro, parsley, pepitas, cumin, garlic and some salt and pepper. Pulse to a coarse paste; then slowly drizzle in the olive oil, while pulsing. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and fold in the cotija and Parmesan. Set aside.
  5. When the meatloaf is done, remove it from the oven and immediately spread some of the pesto over the top. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. For the tortilla strips: Fill a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven with 2 inches of oil, and heat the oil to 350 degrees F over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the tortilla strips until golden and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt.
  7. To serve: Cut the meatloaf into thick slices. Top with a dollop of cilantro pesto and some crispy tortilla strips. Serve.

Cook’s Note

My spicy polenta cakes make a fantastic partner for this meatloaf.

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