Recently when I was in the mood for meat loaf. Many years ago, I purchased a steel grill meat loaf pan from Williams-Sonoma. The loaf pan has an open bottom with a handled insert and a perforated base that allows fat to drain and is meant to be used on a grill. Although no longer available, a similar product can be found at Amazon or Sur La Table.
Cheesy Meat Loaf with Bacon and Herbs was the recipe that was included with the pan. The ingredients needed are extra-virgin olive oil, carrots, celery, an onion, fresh garlic, fresh bread crumbs, warm water, fresh flat-leaf parsley, mozzarella cheese (shredded and cubed), salt, pepper, ground beef, eggs, fresh thyme and thick-cut bacon. I used fresh herbs from my garden for this dish.
Although I was ready to pop my meat loaf into the pan and place on the grill, Mother Nature had a different idea. The heavens opened with torrential rains for about an hour. Needless to say, I wasn’t about to venture outside to cook, so into the oven it went. I have made this recipe outside before and it worked quite well. I don’t know why I haven’t made it more often.
The recipe begins by sautéing the carrots, celery, onion and olive oil in a fry pan until lightly caramelized. Garlic is added and sautéed for an additional minute. The pan is removed to allow the vegetables to cool.
While the vegetables are sautéing, I made 2-1/4 cups of bread crumbs from a baguette. Using warm water, I soaked 1-1/2 cups then squeezed out the water. This was then added to a bowl along with the ground beef, vegetable mixture, eggs, herbs, some olive oil, salt, pepper and cubed mozzarella. It then went into a lightly oil meat loaf pan. The remaining bread crumbs are combined with parsley, olive oil, shredded mozzarella, salt and pepper. The bread crumb mixture goes over the meat loaf then is topped with strips of bacon.
If cooking on a grill, indirect heat is needed and the meat loaf bakes for approximately 70 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°. It took about the same amount of time in my oven.
Wow, what a delicious meal. The meat loaf is quite flavorful and moist; I had forgotten how the combination of vegetables with the fresh parsley and thyme give this meat loaf such a delicious taste. The meat was moist and juicy from the addition of moist bread crumbs. The bread crumbs help to keep the meat from stiffening and helps to absorb and retain the juices thus allowing for a moister meat loaf.
I suggest that you use an 80/20 blend of ground beef, anything too lean and your meat loaf will not be as tender. I used 80/20 organic ground beef and didn’t sufficiently break up the beef enough. There were a few “dense” clumps in the meat loaf, but overall, a great recipe.
Cheesy Meat Loaf with Bacon and Herbs
From the Kitchen of Williams-Sonoma
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 80 minutes
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/4 cups (135g) fresh bread crumbs (from a crustless baguette)
1/3 cup (80 ml) warm water
5 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 oz. (60g) mozzarella cheese, shredded, plus 6 oz., (185g) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 lb. (1 kg) ground beef (80% lean)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
8 thick-cut bacon slices
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with 1 Tbs. of the oil.
In a deep sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the carrots, celery and onion and sauté until tender and starting to caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool until slightly warm, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, soak1 1/2 cups (90g) of the bread crumbs with the warm water. In another bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup (45g) bread crumbs, the 1 Tbs. parsley, the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and the shredded mozzarella and season with salt and pepper.
Gently squeeze the soaked bread crumbs to remove excess moisture and place in a large bowl. Add the beef, vegetable mixture, eggs and the remaining 4 tablespoons parsley, the thyme and the cubed mozzarella and use your hands to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the meat loaf mixture in the prepared pan, leaving ½-inch (12mm) of space at the top. Cover the meat loaf with the cheese-breadcrumb mixture. Place the bacon strips lengthwise across the top of the meat loaf to cover, overlapping them slightly, Trim off the edges so there is no overhang.
Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat loaf registers 165°F, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let the meat loaf rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.