meatloaf-round1a

Sometimes you come across a recipe which makes perfect sense and makes you think “why didn’t I do that?” This is one of those recipes. Imagine meatloaf – not the kind from a cafeteria, but the kind you make at home. Real comfort food, really delicious, moist, and flavorful – you get the idea. Now multiply that by 10 and you get this recipe. It’s been adapted a couple of times but this is my version of it. The original is from ‘The Adventures of Fat Rice: Recipes from the Chicago Restaurant Inspired by Macau’. I haven’t seen the original recipe but adapted versions of it – you have to give credit where credit is due!

The additions in this recipe, the shape, the toppings all can be tailored to your tastes. The idea of making this in a “Bundt” style shape entirely intrigued me. The addition of bacon to the top, well that’s just plain genius. I made a number of variations – the original called for day old white bread soaked in milk, I used multi-grain with the crust soaked in milk. I used an assortment of dried wild mushrooms – delicious, instead of wood ear; cheddar instead of Edam, and capers instead of olives. Everything else pretty much the same. But I also put it together slightly differently so make sure you follow my instructions – in other words, don’t be me, or be me and send me a picture of the final product!

The taste will blow you away. This is a great dish to make for a weeknight meal or for a special occasion. It’s not your average meatloaf. It needs nothing on top i.e. no sauces, gravy etc. it’s full of flavor and every bite has something in it for everyone. I ask that the ground meats are at room temperature before you add them to the bread/mushroom/onion mixture. So before you start cooking the onions, take the ground meats out of the fridge, open up the packets and break up the meat, set aside. By the time the onions are ready and slightly cool; your meat will be ready to mix. I find ground meat straight from the fridge is harder to mix and doesn’t absorb flavors as easily. This is just a technique I use when mixing ground meats. Always use caution and never leave raw ground meat out for more than 30 minutes – at room temperature. You can also make mini versions of this meatloaf in large muffin tins (pictured below), ideal if cooking for 2 and you want to freeze for a later date or lunch the next day!

Ingredients
7 slices multi-grain bread
1½ cups whole milk
½ cup dried wild mushrooms, soaked and chopped
Boiling water, for soaking
⅓ cup olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 Thai chilies, finely chopped
½ cup currants
1 lb ground beef – at room temperature
1 lb ground pork – at room temperature
1 lb chorizo or hot Italian sausage meat – no casings, at room temperature
1½ cups grated old cheddar cheese
½ cup capers – usually about 1 jar of capers, if you are using large capers, chop them up first
½ cup sliced (or slivered) almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 eggs, divided
6 slices bacon, halved crosswise

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350º, line a rimmed baking tray with parchment – set aside
In a small bowl, combine the bread and milk, and let soak for 20 minutes
Squeeze the bread to drain any excess milk, and then transfer to a large bowl, discard the milk
Meanwhile, in a small heatproof bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water and let sit until re-hydrated, 15 minutes, drain and chop, then transfer to the bowl with the bread
Remove the ground meats from the fridge, open the packets and roughly break up the meat patty – set aside, this is to bring the meats to room temperature and should not be left out for more than 30 minutes
In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes
Toss in the chilies and currants in the last minute of cooking – let cool completely – the warmed currants will plump up with the moisture in the pan, then transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms and bread,
To the large bowl, add the ground beef, pork and sausage, 1 cup of the grated cheese, the capers, almonds, lemon juice, salt, pepper, lemon zest and 2 of the eggs that have been lightly beaten
Using your hands, mix the meat loaf until well incorporated, and then transfer to a the prepared baking sheet
Press the meat loaf into a ring shape with a hole in the center – like a Bundt cake, and place a ramekin or oven proof glass bowl in the center – make sure the top of the bowl is below the surface of the meat as the idea is to have excess fat/drippings flow into the bowl and ensure there is a whole in the center at the end of the baking time
Beat the remaining egg and brush the meat loaf liberally with it
Lay the bacon slices around the meat loaf, starting in the center and draping out to the edge – see picture below
Bake the meatloaf for 60 – 70 minutes – the internal temperature should be 175f – carefully remove the bowl and discard drippings – it will be hot so please use caution
Cover loosely and let cool for 10 minutes, then drain and discard any collected fat – carefully transfer to a serving platter
Slice the meat loaf and serve
As always – enjoy!
Note: If presenting it on the table, fill the center with soft fluffy mashed potatoes or butternut squash puree – something with flavor but not overpowering – the star is the meatloaf

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