Monday, May 03, 2010

Mexican Meatza, or Keeping It Interesting for Paleo Kids

By C. August

I have a fairly high tolerance for a boring, always-eating-the-same-thing diet. If I were cooking for me alone, I could keep a few staples on hand and be set but for the occasional craving.

That doesn't fly when cooking for kids, especially when transitioning them to a mostly paleo diet. We have been very fortunate to have kids who are adventurous eaters, but perhaps that's a testament to the fact that they have always eaten what we grownups were eating, whether it was meatloaf or an Indian korma. Regardless, I need to vary what I make for them or they get sick of it and start asking for pizza (which they never get tired of, unfortunately).

We have all become huge fans of meatza lately, and I've neared perfection in the "traditional" meatza arena. Some tips: use two eggs for binding, add chopped, cooked bacon to the "crust," and throw whatever salami-type meats you have on top of the cheese for crispy, salty goodness! I wanted to branch out -- a cheeseburger meatza is in the cards -- and picked a Mexican Meatza for this past weekend. Scouring the Internet I found nothing, so I made it up.

"CRUST":
  • 2 lb 80/20 ground beef
  • 2 eggs (beaten together)
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese
  • 1 med-small onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • taco seasoning from scratch (I used about 3/4 of what this recipe yields out of fear that it would be too spicy for the kids, and regretted that I didn't use all of it. Next time, I'll use all of it.)
TOPPINGS and SIDES:
  • salsa
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • black olives
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • guacamole
  • sour cream
I mixed up the onions, beaten eggs, parmesan cheese, garlic, and taco seasoning in a stand mixer (a great time saver for ground beef dishes). I then greased a 9x13 pan with butter, and spread out the crust, making a ridge around the edge to hold the toppings (a la Richard). The ridge works really well, and the more careful you are about making sure there aren't any gaps and such, the better the crust will come out. Mine have consistently retained both the ridge, and the rectangular shape.

I preheated the oven at 450, and then cooked the crust for 10 mins (it should shrink from the edges of the pan a bit). After removing, I set the oven to preheat at broil. I drained some of the fat (not all of it -- why waste it?), then spread the salsa. (Side note: when doing "traditional" pizza-type meatza, I use a ton of tomato sauce, but used much less salsa for fear of overpowering the other spices. This worked well.)

Then on goes the cheddar cheese (to taste -- I used a ton), and black olives on half for me and my son (the other half of the family shuns black olives) and then into the broiler until bubbly and slightly browned.

Meanwhile, I set the table with all the fixin's--shredded lettuce, guacamole, sour cream--because the kids (6 and 4 yrs) love to fix up their own meals.

The result? Success! Everyone enjoyed it, my daughter asked for seconds, and they've been happily eating the leftovers the past couple of days. Still, I think Mexican Meatza will only be an occasional option, something to mix up the routine a bit. We all like the regular pizza-meatza so much that it will remain our go-to version.

Enjoy! And if you come up with interesting and successful variations, post them in the comments.

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