Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meatloaf Redemption!

I'll be honest. I didn't grow up with meatloaf. I don't remember my mother or grandmother ever making it. But that is ok, they were/are great cooks. Meatloaf played a role for me later in life. It was a weekly endeavor at my university's dining hall. Topped with gravy or ketchup, I really enjoyed it, eventhough, it was cafeteria food.

So instead of "Mom's Meatloaf," I am starting a new meatloaf tradition in my cooking life. Topping it and wrapping it in bacon! How could it go wrong? Well, it can't. Do yourself a favor and top your meatloaf with bacon.

I'm sure everyone has a recipe for meatloaf. There are all different kinds styles and recipes that uset various types of ground meat to vegetables to spices to glazes. I chose to go basic here but don't let 'basic' dissuade you, it is stilled packed with meatloaf goodness.

Start by cooking your aromatic veggies. I finely diced up carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and fennel and cooked until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Allow the veggies to cool. Add in chunks of white bread that has been soaked in whole milk for 6-8 minutes. Make sure to squeeze out excess milk. The soaked bread adds to the tenderness of the meatloaf.

I combined 1 lb of ground pork and ground beef, 2 eggs, Worchestershire sauce, salt/pepper, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, horseradish, and finely diced scallions. Your additions to the meatloaf expands from dried fruits to herbs to any spices to ingredients such as capers and/or dried mushrooms. It is whatever you like or what you have in your pantry.

Form a 10x4 loaf in a 9x13 pan. Layer pieces of bacon on top of the meatloaf.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and cook until a meat thermometer registers at 160 degrees in the middle, about 50-60 minutes. Look at that baby sizzling away!

After you have achieved a middle of 160 degrees, turn on the broiler and crisp up the bacon, about 3-4 minutes. Allow the meatloaf to rest after it is done cooking to redistribute the juices.

That looks awesome, I'm ready to dig in. The kitchen smells of bacon and veggies and...and...and MEAT!

Yes, redemption indeed. The bacon provided a spectacular crispy crust while the inside was moist and tender. Bacon really adds a great pork flavor to the meatloaf since the fat bastes itself while it cooks. Does it get any better than that?

Sure, this isn't the world's greatest meatloaf recipe but it definitely provides a comfort level and was a perfect meal after shoveling snow. If you haven't made meatloaf before, start easy and take off from there, but don't forget the bacon!

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