Is it a Bacon Explosion in the round? Nope. It’s meatloaf. When I make a meatloaf, I saute about two cups of veggies (3/4 cup onion, 1/2 cup bell pepper & 1/2 cup celery, 1/4 cup green onion – all chopped tiny) in 3 tablespoons of butter. To this, I add cumin, a little cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, a couple of bay leaves and a few gratings of nutmeg, a couple of minced garlic cloves, some Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Obviously, if you don’t have all these spices, don’t worry about it. Use what you’ve got. Let this simmer until the veggies are very soft. Stir in about a 1/2 cup ketchup and start adding some milk (cream, evaporated milk or half & half work fine) and cook for another couple of minutes. This should end up being the consistency of a milk shake. You’re going to mix the whole mess into the meat once it’s cooled to room temperature. I usually pour it into a shallow bowl so that it’ll cool faster.
I use 1 lb ground beef (84/15) and 1 lb ground pork. Break up the meat and put it in a big bowl. Add a couple of lightly beaten eggs and the spice and veggie mixture. Take out the bay leaves. Add a cup of bread crumbs. I like Panko bread crumbs, but any type will do. Mix all this together by hand. (Did you ever used to watch that “Two Fat Ladies” cooking show? They would always mix up meat like this without taking off their rings. Grody!) A lot of people really hate this part, sticking your hands into raw meat. Doesn’t bother me a bit. It appeals to my primative side. Hey, at least we’re going to cook it! Form the whole thing into a a loaf shape. Here comes the bacon…
Wrap the loaf in strips of bacon. I use the thick cut type. This gives the meatloaf a little smokiness and a little extra fat. Dry meatloaf is only yucky. Instead of sticking it in a loaf pan and watching it boil in it’s own juices as it cooks, I like to line a pan to catch the drippings with foil. Then sit the meatloaf on a rack over the pan. I happen to have a little cooling rack that fits nicely into a rectangular baking pan. If you don’t have something you can rig together like this, a broiler pan works nicely. You know, that two piece thing that came witht he oven? You just want the meat to be elevated in some way, so that the bacon gets nice and crispy. Be careful if the rack wants to slide around when you’re taking it in or out of the oven.
Oh, you should have preheated the oven to 350 degrees. Forgot to mention that. If you’ve waited until now, give it about 10 minutes to preheat and then pop in the meatloaf. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn the heat up to 400 and let it cook another 35 minutes. It should be nicely browned and full of flavor at this point.
There are about a million ways to make a meatloaf. That’s part of why I’m not being super specific about measurements of spices. You might not like as much spice as I do. But, remember, plain old ground meat is pretty boring. You want it to be something you crave instead of just tolerate. So, give it some flavor. This is just a basic guideline to a cheap meal that feeds our family of two for days! Meatloaf with some broccoli and tomato basil soup was a nice little meal. Hubbard made some tasty grilled cheese and meatloaf sandwiches. (Sounds weird, but they were great!) I took some leftover meatloaf and a salad for lunch one day. We’ve got a hunk left over still. I think I might cook up some pinto beans, take the bacon off the remaining meatloaf, crumble up the meat and add it to the bean pot for some extra savory goodness. I better shut up before I start telling you how to make beans!
Have a good one!