As a girl, I remember having meatloaf sandwiches in my lunchbox. It was stuffed in there in between my thermos and my much coveted Devil Dog. I was a weird kid. I hated the peanut butter and fluff sandwiches most of my friends had. It must have been something about the white, sticky fluff that stuck all over their cheeks in little peaks and valleys that made my stomach churn. Or maybe it was the smell of peanut butter wafting from their sticky cheeks. Whatever it was, the signature sandwich of childhood was not my sandwich of choice. I’m sure my friends thought my sandwich was odd, but I ate it with gusto, and not a crumb or smudge of catsup on my cheek! I loved those meatloaf sandwiches. I haven’t had a meat loaf sandwich since I picked one up at Duckworth’s Beach Gourmet last year. I could write a paragraph on that sandwich alone! These days, a crusty piece of toasted sour dough bread seems like a better choice for a sandwich and I wouldn’t be caught dead buying a Hostess snack cake.
I used to buy meat shares to supply our family with locally raised meat. We would pay our friends, Lynne and Jeff Urquhart of Ironbrook Farm in NH, to raise a cow for a year on their farm, and at the end of the year we would split the meat and store it in our basement freezer. That meat would last us for months. Nowadays, I buy local, pasture-raised meat from Appleton Farms, Tendercrop Farms, or Miles Smith Farm in NH. Buying a meat share from a farm means you pay a set fee for so many pounds of meat, usually 20-40 pounds. My last 20 pound meat share from Miles Smith Farm in New Hampshire was composed of :
Kabobs/Stew Beef – approx 3 lbs
London Broil steaks – approx 2 lbs
Delmonico/T-Bone/Porterhouse – approx 2 lbs
Loin Strip/Sirloin Steaks – approx 2 lbs
Eye Round/Top Round/Sirloin Roasts – approx 3 lbs
Ground Beef – approx 10 lbs
Getting a meat share is similar to being part of a CSA. You don’t choose the cuts of meat, you get ALL the cuts from the butcher. And, you have to be creative when you have lots of ground beef. I started making meatloaf after staring into the frozen abyss of my freezer and noticing that there were pounds and pounds of ground beef starting right back at me. I realized at that moment that I had been selecting all the prime cuts to cook with and unknowingly left all the frozen one-pound packages of lean ground beef. Let’s face it, there’s only so many burgers and shepherd pies you can make! Remembering my meat loaf sandwiches of childhood and the spectacular one I had at Duckworth’s last year, I pulled out two pounds of ground beef and 1 pound of ground pork and began to work on my recipe. You’ll need to have scrupulously clean, polish free, short fingernails so you can up close and personal with your ingredients. Yes, you need to use your hands to combine the ingredients. My grandfather Pasquale taught me that you must get right in there and mix the ingredients with your hands. There’s no other way to make meatballs (or meatloaf). So get out your nail clippers, scrub your hands using soap and hot water, and get mixing.
Using a meatloaf pan provides for more even heating and allows the fat to drain off.
Bacon-Cheese Meat Loaf
- 2# lean ground beef
- 1# lean ground pork
- 8oz. cheddar, cubed (I used Cabot Extra Sharp or Kerrygold Cheddar)
- 1 yellow onion, minced
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½C fresh breadcrumbs (I crush saltines)
- 1t sea salt
- 1t fresh ground pepper
- 1t fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 1t fresh oregano, minced
- 1T fresh parsley, minced
- 3 slices of apple smoked nitrate-free bacon, cut in half
- ½C low sugar catsup or organic agave sweetened catsup
- 2T dijon mustard
- 2T brown sugar
- 1T worcestershire sauce
Directions: Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine the ground beef, ground pork, cheddar, eggs, breadcrumbs, sea salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and parsley. Don’t be afraid to use your hands or use a large bowl mixer.
Add the cubed cheddar cheese and gently mix until the cheese is evenly combined. Cut the three slices of bacon in half and place three slices in the center of the meatloaf pan. Form the meat into a loaf shape and place on top of the bacon. Top the loaf with the other three halves of bacon.
Roast at 400° for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn oven down to 375° and roast for one hour or until the center has reached 150° with a meat thermometer. Every 15-20 minutes you can baste with the bacon drippings using a spoon. When meat loaf has reached 150 degrees, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
While the meat is resting, warm the sauce.
Heat a small saucepan to medium-low. Add all the ingredients and gently stir to combine. Heat until warmed and serve with the meatloaf.