Suzi's Blog

Jean’s Best Meat Loaf from The Bacon Cookbook

Meat loaf. The food, not the singer.

Brian really enjoys meat loaf. It’s his #1 comfort food, aside from mimosas and brownies. Meat loaf has legs, with one loaf providing multiple meals. Hot out of the oven with baked potato. Or sliced the next day on great bread with mayo and tart pickles.

And everyone has meat loaf recipes. There are more meat loaf variations out there than for salsa and guacamole combined. The imagination and complexity that go into all those variations are amazing.

Onions? Yes and no. Cooked and uncooked. Yellow, or white, or red, or shallots or scallions.

Ketchup on top? Yes and no. A little or a lot. Just added at the end or gooped on top and baked to carmelization.

And you add jalapenos, cheese, carrots, celery, bread …

Bread? I never did bread. But I saw this recipe in The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas and I could not resist. Villas in turn credits this to Jean Anderson in her cookbook Quick Loaves. Anderson says its grandmother’s recipe that has a double dose of bacon, bread softened with milk, and even some baking powder. The recipe was too intriguing not to try.

The result? It’s a very different meat loaf, light and soft to the bite because of all the bread. It’s not a dense, just-lots-of-meat meat loaf. So you can have a thick slice and not immediately have that “filled to the brim” feeling that often comes with meat loaves that are, well, very meaty.

I enjoyed this fresh from the oven, but I loved it the next two days in sandwiches. I blogged recently for Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles [http://www.cookingbythebook.com/blog/recipes/limemint-freezer-pickle/] and those pickles with this meat loaf made sandwiches that you just can’t buy anywhere. When it comes to food, sometimes homemade is just the best.

Of course, since this is a meat loaf recipe, you are free to make all the adjustments you like. But do follow the bread and milk instructions to achieve the distinctive texture and lightness.

Author James Villas has a distinguished writing and editor career and over 15 wonderful cookbooks to his credit. I think his secret passion in pork. Besides The Bacon Cookbook he has authored Pig as well. In Bacon, he shows how to use those bacon strips from appetizer to dessert. Yes, there are bacon cookies here, and I’ll test them and let you know.

Nestled in Bacon are over 150 recipes including French Cheese and Bacon Puffs, Alsatian Bacon and Onion Tart, Maryland Crab Shrimp and Bacon Chowder, Maytag Beef and Bacon Stew, and English Roast Guinea Hens with Bacon and Mushrooms. I have singled those ones out for Suzen and me to test this fall and winter. You just may want to get a copy of Bacon, hit your supermarket and get a head start. Recipes by James Villas are impeccably written, easy to follow, and guarantee you a most satisfying experience.

Jean’s Best Meat Loaf

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups soft white bread crumbs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 7 slices lean streaky bacon
  • 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef (preferably a mixture of chuck and round)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Great a 9X5X3-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Place the bread crumbs in a large mixing blow, drizzle the milk over the top, and let soak. Meanwhile, fry 2 slices of the bacon in a small skillet over moderate heat till crisp, drain on paper towels, and crumble finely.

Add the crumbled bacon plus all the remaining ingredients, except the 5 remaining bacon slices, to the soaked bread crumbs and mix with your hands till thoroughly blended. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, mounding slightly in the center, and bake for 20 minutes. Removed from the oven, increase the hat to 375°F, and arrange the 5 remaining bacon slices lengthwise on top of the loaf, overlapping slightly and tucking the ends down against the pan with a spatula.

Return the loaf to oven and bake till the bacon is nicely browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the loaf in the pan about 20 minutes, pouring off the fat, then transfer to a plate and cut into slices.

Source: The Bacon Cookbook by James Villas

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