Monday, August 10, 2009

Messed Up Meatloaf

What? Are you thinking I've lost it? Well, don't worry, I haven't. Although my brain is at risk for overheating...literally. It's been over 95 degrees for nearly 8 weeks in a row now...with a heat index of over 100. Should I try to fry an egg on the sidewalk? What do y'all think? Oh, and at this very moment, the wind is blowing and there's thunder in the air...but you know what? It's all a scam...I'll bet you $100 right now this storm system will pass right over without giving up a single drop of rain! (And sure enough, while I was working on this post, the sun came out, there was no rain, and it's now 99 degrees instead of 100. Whoo hoo!)

Instead of experimenting outside....let's get going INSIDE my lovely air-conditioned kitchen and throw some meatloaf together. This recipe is about 5 years in in the making...I've made it dozens of times now, and I really think I've tweaked it to death. The best part about this meatloaf is the secret ingredient...and yes, your kids and hubby will never know.

I like to use one pound of ground sirloin and one pound of ground pork. The pork adds great flavor...and you don't end up with just a loaf of beef. And if you know me well enough by now, there's lots of fresh thyme, involved too. Lastly, I put bacon on top, because it browns up so well in the oven. I get complaints if I leave it off!

Messed Up Meatloaf

1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup pureed carrots (don't worry, I'll show you :-)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 can mild Rotel, well drained
4 tablespoons barbecue sauce (I used a honey mesquite)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
4 slices bacon

First things first...we're going to steam the carrots. Use your vegetable steamer and steam one small package of baby carrots until tender, 14-16 minutes. Save the cooking liquid at the bottom of the steamer. If you don't have a veggie steamer, you can steam the carrots in the microwave or in a medium pot over the stove.

Take the cooked carrots and dump 'em into a blender/food processor and puree the carrots to a smooth consistency. Use about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid if necessary, but you don't want carrot soup here, so use it sparingly.

And if you want to skip this step entirely, just buy 2 jars of pureed carrots in the baby food aisle. I had a bag of carrots in the fridge that needed to be used up.

In a medium skillet, saute the onions until nice and soft, 10-12 minutes.

I find putting raw onions in the meatloaf means the kids will see them later on, resulting in more complaints at dinnertime. Cooking the onions first assures they'll be milder tasting in the finished meatloaf.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the bacon. Use your hands to mix everything together, but be gentle...otherwise the meatloaf will be too dense.

Darn, I forgot the barbecue sauce!

Now, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and pack the meat mixture gently, but firmly into the pan.

Have a sheet pan ready; invert the loaf pan onto the sheet, then remove the plastic wrap.

Place the bacon strips lengthwise over the meatloaf.

I like to bake the meatloaf on a sheet pan for 2 reasons. 1) You can wrap the bacon around 3 sides instead of just putting it on the top, and 2) The meatloaf cooks more evenly since 3 sides are exposed to the oven heat.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature is 165. If you haven't got a meat thermometer...I've been telling you to go get one right? Trust'll love'll be one of your favorite kitchen tools. Most of the fat will cook out, and make a mess on the sheet pan, but it'll clean up easy...don't worry!

Let the meatloaf rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with ketchup, barbecue sauce, or condiment of choice. I made roasted green beans and cheesy mashed potatoes on the side, even though only Rebecca and I eat the potatoes. I personally think it's a crime to have meatloaf without mashed potatoes.

This makes enough to feed us for 2 nights. I guess when the kids are teenagers, I'll be making 2 meatloaves...or more!

God bless your table tonight!

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