Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

Everybody loves a good slice of meatloaf now and then. If there were ever a time for making meatloaf it would be now. A few days ago we had a blizzard that dumped 6″ of snow on us and we’re expecting another storm tomorrow to bring up to another 10″! Time to bunker down. Coincidentally, lean ground beef and bacon were both on sale at Farm Boy, AND they had ground pork, for once. Fate had this in store for me! I got a little over-excited with it and decided to make one HUGE loaf. In hindsight, with these quantities, I should have made two separate loaves. Things got a little awkward when trying to transfer it onto the baking tray. It tasted great just the same. The flavor reminded me of italian sausage. It has a nice texture too, slightly crumbly and juicy. Here’s the recipe:

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makes 12 – 4.5oz slices. Plenty to freeze for later.

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1cup milk
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram (or oregano)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp whole fennel seed
  • 2 tsp whole mustard seed
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 12 strips bacon (about 1lb)

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a small frying pan saute the onions and garlic until translucent. Add the milk to the pan in heat it up just until it’s very steamy. Do not boil. Place the oats in a small mixing bowl and pour the hot milk over them. Allow them to soak and cool while you are preparing the rest.

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Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter and lay out the strips of bacon on it so that they are slightly overlapped. The picture shows one large sheet of bacon… make two sheets with 6 strips each for easier handling later on.

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Place the ground beef and pork in a large mixing bowl with all the remaining ingredients. Once the oat mixture has absorbed all the liquid add it to the bowl with the ground meat and gently mix everything together. Do not over mix or the meatloaf will have an unpleasant texture. Split evenly between the two sheets of bacon and form them into loaves.

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Use the plastic wrap to lift up the other end of the sheets of bacon and fold them over and around the loaves. Use the plastic wrap to lift the loaves and transfer them onto a parchment lined baking tray.  Place them so that the seam where the bacon overlaps itself is facing down. This way it will stay wrapped properly while cooking. Remove the plastic wrap and discard. Put the tray in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 40 minutes. Slice and serve!

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I cut this into 12 portions about 4.5 oz each. All together it cost just under $16.50, making it roughly $1.40 per portion.

Related Post: Crushed Red Skin Potatoes

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Balsamic Beef Ragu – I died and went to heaven.

This recipe is inspired by the delicious cavatelli with balsamic pork ragu dish I had at this restaurant recently. It was so, so, SO good. I wanted more! I resolved to try and recreate that delicious flavour at home. It would take a few different (easy) steps to prepare something similar but I HAD to have more! I wasn’t in the mood for pasta and the grocery store didn’t have the right cut of pork so my rendition of the dish ended up going in a slightly different direction than the original. Stewing beef was on sale at a decent price ($5.99/lb), so that was an easy choice. Braised beef tends to be super rich so I decided to pair it with a light starch to help create a balance. Enter spaghetti squash – a starchy vegetable that can be substituted for pasta, as the name implies. There you have it! The rest of my recipe closely follows the lines of the original dish. I roasted a couple clusters of grapes, toasted a few walnuts and shredded some radicchio. The end result was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made at home. It was definitely worth the effort. I absolutely have to share the recipe with you and you absolutely should try it!

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Balsamic Beef Ragu – with spaghetti squash, radicchio, walnuts and roasted grapes

makes 4 servings

  • 1 lb stewing beef, diced into 1″ cubes
  • 1 small red onion, halved and sliced
  • 1/2  bulb of fennel (or 1 small), cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 large clusters red seedless grapes
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 head radicchio, cored and sliced
  • 2 tbsp butter

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Preheat oven to 325F. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron pan on med-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add 2 tbsp cooking oil to the pan and then add the beef. Brown it well on all sides and place it into a deep casserole dish.

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Reduce the heat to medium, add the red onion into the pan and cook until translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the fennel to the pan and cook just until it softens slightly, another 2 minutes. Some of the brown bits of beef that are stuck to the bottom of the pan will lift off and get mixed into the veggies, this is a good thing. Add the veggie mixture to the casserole dish. Pour 2 cups of water into the pan and bring to a simmer while gently scraping up rest of the brown bits with a wooden spoon. This is called deglazing the pan; it helps build flavor. Once simmering, pour the liquid into the casserole dish along with the thyme, bay leaves and balsamic.

Cover with a lid or tightly wrap with tinfoil, place on the middle rack in the oven and allow to braise for 4 hours. When the meat is ready it will be so tender it falls apart.

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In the mean time you can prepare the other ingredients. Wash the grapes then toss them with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them in a small oven-safe dish and roast in the oven for 1 hour. Once they are done allow them to cool then pull them off the stems and set aside for later.

While the grapes are roasting you can toss the walnuts in a little olive oil, salt and pepper aswell. Then place them in a small oven-safe dish and roast them in the oven until they are just turning golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Set aside for later.

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Next, core and thinly slice the radicchio then store it in a container in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. You can then get the squash ready for the oven.  To prepare it, cut it in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Brush the flesh lightly with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place it cut side up on a baking tray. It will take about 1 hour to roast so plan for it to go in an hour before the beef will be ready. Place it either on the lower rack, or, if it will fit, on the same rack as the casserole dish.

Once the remaining hour has passed, take both the squash and beef out of the oven. Using a fork, pull the flesh of the squash away from the skin and fluff it slightly. Using a pair of tongs and that same fork, shred the chunks of beef. The onion and fennel will have cooked down enough to be mixed into the beef unnoticed. Huzzah, secret veggies!

Place 1/4 of the squash in the bottom of a large dinner bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the radicchio , then top with 1/4 of the beef mixture. Place a thin slice of cold butter on top of the beef, about 1/2 tbsp. Butter is recommended but optional; it adds flavor and will help keep the lean beef from having a dry texture. Place 1/4 of the grapes and walnuts on top and you’re ready to enjoy your first serving! I promise it won’t disappoint.

When storing everything in the refrigerator, I recommend keeping each component in it’s own container. When it comes time to reheat, place a serving of the squash, beef, and grapes together in a small dish and reheat covered. Then top with butter, radicchio and walnuts.

This recipe cost me roughly $4 per portion, a little pricey for my budget, but totally worth it. I can’t wait to eat the rest!

Bolognese Sauce

This is a simple and delicious tomato meat sauce for pasta. It’s a staple in my kitchen. I usually make a big batch and freeze it in 1 or 2 cup containers. That way I can use it for a quick meal when I’m short on time or just to mix it up. This recipe isn’t traditional, but it’s tasty none-the-less. You can use leftover wine, or, do what I do; buy a bottle and use half for the sauce and drink the rest! It makes for a relaxing night. This is great comfort food for cold nights.

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  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced (or grated)
  • 2 carrots, finely diced (or grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 325 ml dry red wine
  • 2 bottles passata
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

In a large sauce pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and use a wooden spoon to break it apart and stir it while it cooks. You want the beef to be broken apart into very small bits. Once the beef is cooked add in the celery, carrot, onion and garlic. Turn the heat up to medium-high and allow any liquid from the vegetables to cook off. Add in the wine and simmer until the liquid is cooked down again. Add in the remaining ingredients and bring up to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. The sauce should be fairly thick.

This recipe makes about 8 – 1 cup portions of sauce. It costs roughly 2$ per portion, depending on which wine you choose.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Hey! This is the first recipe I have to share with you guys! It’s a tasty classic that’s pretty easy to make. I made brown rice and rapini to go with it. Here we go!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs (makes 6 generous servings)

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (medium)
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oats (rolled or quick cooking oatmeal)
  • 1tsp kosher salt
  • 1 small cooking onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bottle of passata (720ml) aka strained tomato puree
  • 1/4cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

Start by finely dicing the onion and mincing the garlic. Place half of each of the onion and garlic in a mixing bowl with the ground beef, pork, oats, the egg, 1/2 tsp salt and a little pepper. Gently mix it together just until it’s evenly blended. You don’t want to over mix and turn it to a paste, the texture will be unpleasant when it’s cooked. Form the mixture into golf ball sized pieces, placing them on a plate as you go. So you should have something that looks like this :

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with half the onion and garlic reserved for later. Next up you’ll need a frying pan with the cooking oil on just above medium heat and a pot large enough to fit all those meatballs close by (but not on the heat yet). Brown your meatballs in the frying pan, turning them over a few times to brown it all over and place them into the pot as they are ready. You’ll have to do this in a few batches since they won’tall fit in the pan at once.

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Once you’ve got them all browned and into the pot put the rest of the onion garlic in the pan and cook them just until the onion turns translucent. Some of the brown bits that were stuck to the pan after cooking the meatballs will come off while you’re cooking the onions and garlic and will get mixed in, that’s a good thing. Add it all into the pot with the meatballs. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot aswell and bring everything to a gentle simmer. Turn it down to low heat and let them simmer while you get the rice and veg ready.

Combine 1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice and 2 1/2 cups of water into a small pot with a pinch of salt and bring to a simmer. Once it comes to a simmer turn it down to low heat and cover it. It will take about 20 minutes to cook and your meatballs should be ready then too!

For the rapini – I trimmed the end off 5 spears, cut them in half and snuck it in on top of the rice to steam for the last 2 minutes of cooking time. It over cooks very quickly and gets really soft and mushy so you really only want to throw it in right at the end. Here’s how it looks!

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This recipes makes quite a bit, 6-7 servings for me. I would recommend freezing a couple portions of meatballs and rice for another time and keeping the rest in the fridge for dinner over the next few days. When it comes to the rapini I suggest only cooking what you’re going to eat right away. Leave the rest raw in the fridge for next time. If you’re going to reheat using a microwave : put the rapini in at the same time as the rest and it will be cooked by the time the rest is hot. If you’re reheating in an oven or pan just add the rapini  at the very end. A minute is all it really takes for it to cook.

In total this recipe, sides and all, cost about 14$ for 6-7 portions. Not bad at all! Enjoy!