Before I get into the meat of the post (ha get it, meat!) allow me a moment of candor. As I was growing up my mom’s meatloaf was just a terrible grey mass with ketchup drizzled on top. After time in the oven, the ketchup resembled a slightly sticky red shoelace (lawdy I hope she isn’t reading this). Looking back now I should have appreciated her effort more; She was in college, had a family and was putting home cooked meals on the table. I’m grateful she taught me that the experience of cooking for others can be rewarding, also thankful she didn’t teach me her meatloaf recipe.
Okay so enough sounding like a brat, time to share my take on the meatloaf. I knew it had to be moist (yes there is that word), full of flavor and boast something unwarranted. The jobs of flavor and juicy; those fall on the shoulders of finely chopped veggies and panko breadcrumbs. I love the sweetness from the veggies and added nutrition (scoffing laughter, okay a little added nutrition) all bound up with the panko. I wanted to take meatloaf past some unseen barrier from my childhood experiences, so I slathered it with BBQ sauce, wrapped it in bacon and added more BBQ sauce. Now you see why I had to convince myself the addition of the veggies brings nutrition to the equation.
I hope y’all enjoy my meatloaf recipe, that you fall in love with this comfort food all over again or for the first time.
Not my Momma's Meatloaf
Juicy and full of flavor, this meatloaf will become a family favorite.
Preheat the oven to 325C, we are going for low and slow.
In a bowl mix together the bread crumbs and seasoning, set this aside.
In a food processor pulse the red bell pepper, carrot and onion.
In a large bowl place the meatloaf mixture, veggie mix (sometimes I don't use all of it, try for a shy cup), followed by the dry ingredients and egg. Mix this together gently, seriously don't give the meatloaf a deep tissue massage just gently fold the ingredients together.
Shape the loaf in a jelly roll pan or large casserole dish, whatever is on hand that is big enough to allow the drippings to move away from the loaf. Otherwise it will just bake in a pool of fat. (I like to line my pan with parchment paper. ) Then brush the loaf well with BBQ sauce, cause that's way better than ketchup.
Cut the three slices of bacon in half to make six short slices. Lay the short slices over the loaf to make it a little bacon blankie. Hush little loafy don't say a word....
Brush with more BBQ sauce.
Put that gloriousness in the oven at 325C for 90min. Drool and remove from the oven.
As any meatloaf, it's best the day of but makes great leftovers, if there are any. The veggies and panko keep this juicy and full of flavor, while the bacon and BBQ make it special.
A few notes about recipe and technique.
Carrot note - sometimes all I have is shredded carrots, or baby carrots... don't feel like you have to get anything new.
Seasoning note - I adore the Salt Sisters. I have used their Mediterranean rub, Tuscan farmhouse blend and smokey BBQ rub in the recipe. You can't go wrong with them.
Mixing note: I said it but I'll say it again - don't over mix it! Just fold gently otherwise it will affect the texture.
No loaf pan: Despite loaf being in the name I recommend skipping the loaf pan. I'm pretty sure sitting in it's own slop while it bakes is what turns it into a grey glob, instead of baking it just kinda boils. No one wants boiled meat.
Stuffed mushrooms are these little squishy juicy flavor packets of happiness, that will burn the mess out of your tongue if you’re impatient and greedy. I use herb cheese spread to do the heavy lifting for big flavor and easy prep. Start with one container of mushrooms, whatever kind you like as long as they are stuffable. There are two kinds of people when it comes to using mushrooms, those who wash them and those who don’t, I’m a don’t. Sorry all you washers, I just assume take a towel and wipe them clean. Either way once you are satisfied with the state of your mushrooms, pop the stems out, and set the caps aside. Roughly chop the stems, onion and mince the garlic. This is a good point to go ahead and start pre heating the oven to 350C. This is just saying “stuff me” Next grab your favorite oven proof skillet, personally I’m still super happy to reach for the cast iron one I blabbed about here. Heat over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Just as this concoction gets a little bubbly add onion and saute until lightly browned, about 2 min or so. Follow with the chopped mushroom stems, continuing to saute until everything is golden, an additional 3-5 depending on your pan and heat. If you are so inclined; this is a good spot to add a splash of wine, waiting for it to cook off before moving on. Add the minced garlic, stirring constantly until fragrant. Don’t burn the garlic – keep it moving and cook for a min or less. Scrape everything out into a small bowl to cool. Blurry action shot! Once the mushroom/onion/garlic mixture of golden goodness has cooled a bit add half a container of herb cheese spread, about 4 oz. Stir until combined, the trick here is you want the mixture to be warm enough that the cheese melts but isn’t runny. Sometimes I add a little grated Parmesan cheese too. Now stuff those waiting patiently on the side lines mushrooms with a heaping pile of cheesy goodness. In the same skillet you were using to saute, melt the last of the butter and add the stuffed mushrooms. Heat them over a med heat until the bottoms are just turning golden. You really don’t have to do this, I just think it gives them a running start before they go in the oven. Carefully add a bit of white wine, or chicken broth – water will do just fine to. Just enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. Then if desired (you really should desire this part) sprinkle the tops of the ‘shrooms with panko crumbs and/or Parmesan cheese. If you look close you can see an extra bit of butter I felt like they needed, hehe. Put them in the oven for about 5 – 7 min making sure the tops don’t burn. Let them stand for a few min when they come out of the oven or you will experience an inferno of epic proportions and burn your lips, tongue mouth fingers etc. Once cool consume freely. Gracious me, look at that toasted cheesy goodness.
Herb Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
Mushrooms stuffed with creamy herb cheese and sauteed onions.
Wipe the mushrooms clean and remove the stems. Set the caps aside and chop the stems.
In a heavy oven proof skillet melt the butter and olive oil until bubbly. Once this is ready saute the onion for 2-3 min, then add the mushrooms stems and saute until golden. about another 3 - 5 min.
optional - If you have a little white wine or chicken broth add it to the skillet and let it reduce before moving on.
Working quickly saute the garlic with out burning it. Just a quick swoosh around the hot pan then scrape it all into a bowl and let it cool.
Once cooled add the cheese spread, and mix until combined. Using a spoon carefully stuff the mushrooms with the cheese filling.
In the same skillet melt the remaining butter and add the stuffed caps. Heat them for a few min over medium heat until there bottoms are golden.
With out spilling on the caps add a little white wine, chicken broth or even just water. You want enough to just cover the bottom of the skillet.
Top with a sprinkling of panko bread crumbs or Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the oven at 350 C for about 5 - 7 min. You want the mushrooms to be soft, a little shriveled around the edges and the cheese to be slightly brown on top. Let them suckers cool before you dig in.