Meatloaf is one of those all time family favorites. So cozy and inviting during the winter months. A real “comfort food classic”. In setting out to make my version of a favorite, I decide to revisit the “crate of recipes” that I inherited from my mother.
In true “Ruthie” fashion, every time I make a meatloaf it is different. I usually make it without a recipe and it can vary by what ingredients I have and how I feel that day. My mother was the same. She made everything from scratch and especially with these basic recipes, she did not usually follow a recipe either, but she did like to gather ideas from other chefs and try different ways of making a classic.
Yup, I knew I would find something in there that she tried. I can tell by her notes that she changed a few things too and kept it more in her flavor profile, and I am setting out to do the same. There are many similar ingredients and proportions as this written one, and I am sticking fairly close to my traditional recipe, but this time I am adding a twist and stuffing it with cheese, jelly roll style, and adding bacon on top. Oh Yeah.
So, I begin by gathering up my ingredients.
First I take some of my homemade bread (as this is all I have at the moment). I take a few slices and pulse it in the processor to break it up. I don’t process it too long as I want a few different sizes of crumb. Then I spread it out on a baking sheet, I season with a little salt and pepper, and a slight sprinkle of granulated garlic. I place it in a 300 oven until the crumbs are dried out. This takes about 15 minutes or so. Give the crumbs a stir every 5 minutes or so. Don’t brown them, or you will end up with a different flavor. Just dry them. Of course you can use whatever bread you have or if you have crumbs in a canister, you can use that as well. Once cooled, I put that into a large bowl. It measures a little more than a cup.
Next I finely dice some onion and some bell pepper. I put some olive oil in a pan and get that going. I add the onion first and saute for a couple of minutes, then I add the bell pepper, and cook that for an additional couple of minutes, then I add 4 cloves of garlic, minced. I season with a tsp of salt and few grinds of pepper.
Next I add the white wine. About 1 cup or more. I let that cook at a simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Then I add 6 rounded TB of tomato paste. I continue to cook the mixture until it is thick. Then I add a good handful of chopped parsley, taste for additional seasoning, and do so if needed, the I place the mixture in a bowl to cool in the fridge.
To my bowl of crumbs, I add the milk. Just enough to moisten it, not too much otherwise the meat mixture will be too moist and harder to handle. I let that soak up and I work it with my fingers until I feel that the milk and the crumbs are incorporated.
Next I add the meat. I have two pounds of meatloaf mix (veal and beef) and one pound of ground beef. I whisk three eggs in a bowl and add that. Now I add 2 – 2 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp or more of ground pepper.
I hand mix everything in the bowl until it is all incorporated and I place it on a baking sheet large enough to hold it, and I make a large rectangle with the meat mixture, about 1″ thick or so. Then I take my grated cheese and put a layer covering the whole rectangle, leaving a little room at the edges. Then I roll it up like a big meat jelly roll and place it inside my rimmed baking sheet. It’s a big rectangle as you can see.
Next I take the remaining tomato paste, I leave it right in the can, and mix in a few TB of apple cider vinegar, and a TB or so of brown sugar, a little salt and pepper, and I mix that up, then I spread a layer of this glaze over the whole meatloaf.
And, finally, I lay bacon strips across the whole thing. Originally I wanted to completely wrap the meatloaf with the bacon and place it on a rack in the pan, but I was not sure I had enough bacon ( I will have to experiment with that in the future), so I cut the strips and laid them across the top of the entire meatloaf, slightly overlapping each other.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, then raise the temp to 375 degrees to get that bacon crispy. Let it rest for a few minutes, then transfer the meatloaf to a serving platter and place it in view for everyone to see this gorgeous masterpiece. Be sure to slap any hands that try to steal prematurely 🙂 Let it rest for several minutes otherwise you will lose a lot of the cheese when you slice it, remember it is all melted and loose inside.
And there you have it. Meatloaf. Just writing this recipe makes me want to have it again! Enjoy.
Recipe recap :
2 TB or so olive oil
1 onion finely diced (size proportioned to amount of meat)
1 bell pepper finely diced
4 large cloves of garlic minced
1 c of white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 – 6 oz can of tomato paste (divided)
1/2 c chopped parsley
1 cup of dried bread crumbs
1/2 c or more of milk
3 eggs beaten
3 pounds of meatloaf mix or any combination of ground beef, veal, or pork
8 oz of shredded cheddar cheese, I used a medium cheddar
2 TB of apple cider vinegar
1 TB of brown sugar
1/2 lb of bacon slices, sliced in half
Salt and pepper
To a hot pan, add the oil and onion. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the diced bell pepper and saute for an additional two minutes or so, then add the minced garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Add the cup of white wine, and reduce by half. Add 6 TB of tomato paste and continue to cook down and reduce until thick. Add chopped parsley and taste for additional seasoning. If needed add more salt and pepper.Put the mixture in a bowl and place it in the refrigerator to cool.
In a large bowl, add the bread crumbs and the milk. Start with 1/2 cup and add more until all of the crumbs are moist. Next add the cooled onion mixture to the crumbs. Then add the meat, the eggs, 2 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp or more of ground pepper. Incorporate it together using your hands until it is all blended.
Make a large rectangle with the meat on top of a baking sheet large enough to hold it. It should take up nearly the whole sheet. Spread the shredded cheese on top and then gently roll up the meat, jelly roll style, encasing the cheese. Be sure to form the meat so there are no seams and no obvious places for the cheese to ooze out. Then place the “loaf” into a rimmed baking pan.
Take the remaining tomato paste and add the 2 TB of apple cider vinegar and 1 TB of the brown sugar, season with salt and pepper, mix it up until incorporated, and glaze the entire top of the meat loaf with the mixture.
Lay bacon strips, slightly over lapping, down the whole length of the meatloaf and place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. After 45 minutes turn the oven up to 375 and cook until the bacon is brown and getting crispy.
Remove and let rest a few minutes, transfer to a serving platter and let it rest for several more minutes to allow the cheese to settle.