One day last week, I found myself making dinner for a friend. Such an event usually means I pull out all the stops and go gangbusters with exotic ingredients. That day, though, I had next to nothing in the pantry and fridge to satisfy a visitor. I had to think creatively, and quickly, in order to keep her happy (she's a picky eater!). So, I decided to make meatloaf for the first time in my life.
At this point, you're probably questioning the wisdom of making something for the first time while entertaining a picky eater. Well, now I am too. Apparently, said friend is not only a picky eater but doesn't particularly like meatloaf. So! The moral of this story is: always keep something fancy on hand. Even the best meatloaf won't keep everyone happy.
To the food!
For this recipe, I drew from the fantastic cooking resource, How to Cook Everything. I have certainly put it to good use since my sister gave it to me a year ago! I recommend choosing a fattier blend of meats than I used--mine turned out well, but the fattier the ground meat, the richer the final product. Meatloaf with bacon on top isn't exactly calorie-free in the first place.
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used some leftover Ezekiel bread, to keep this Body Chemistry Diet-friendly)
1/2 cup milk
2 lbs ground beef (or any other meat, or combination of meats)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 small sweet onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 teaspoon fresh sage or summer savory
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4-6 slices peppered bacon
Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, soak the bread crumbs in the milk until the milk is absorbed (about 5 minutes).
Mix together all the ingredients except for the bacon. Shape the meat into a rounded loaf on a baking pan, then lay the bacon across the top and tuck underneath. The bacon should help hold the loaf together.
Bake 45 to 60 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices or barbecue sauce (supposing you can find some without high fructose corn syrup in it). When fully cooked, the meat loaf ought to be lightly browned and firm to the touch. If you have an instant-read thermometer (I do not), it should read 160 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted into the center of the loaf. The bacon should be nice and crispy--if you find it hasn't become so by the time the meatloaf is fully cooked, you can run the whole loaf under the broiler for 2-3 minutes and it will crisp right up.
VERDICT: Pretty great, really, unless you don't like meat loaf in the first place!