Meat loaf is one of those massively American comfort-food dishes that most people crave when their inner children start crying. Me, I crave it any time at all, with mashed potatoes and a boatload of gravy. But there’s meat loaf, and there’s meat loaf. Some years ago, I decided that the very soft and tender kind of loaf, such as the one in the recipe below, is my favorite. Until recently, however, I was baking it in a loaf pan and not coating it with a tomato glaze. I changed. I now feel that a free-standing loaf, all encrusted on the outside with tomato-ey goodness, is about as high as I can take the art.
Bacon-Scented Meat Loaf with Tomato Glaze
Makes 1 meat loaf, which yields a total of 12 thick slices, enough for 12 main-course servings
2 large eggs, beaten in a large bowl
1 cup milk
7 slices white bread, crusts removed
1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¾ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
⅓ teaspoon nutmeg
1 very large onion (about a lb.), very finely chopped
¾ cup chopped celery with leaves
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
18 thick slices smoked bacon, lightly cooked and coarsely chopped
3 pounds ground beef
tomato paste glaze (see recipe below)
1. Spill out ¼ of the beaten egg (or reserve for another use). Beat milk into remaining eggs until well-blended. Tear bread into small pieces and drop into bowl. Mix. Let stand until bread absorbs milk, about 15 minutes. Mash and stir mixture.
2. Add mustard, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, nutmeg, onion, celery, parsley and bacon. Mix well. Add ground beef and mix well. Refrigerate overnight, tightly covered.
3. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
4. Remove meat mixture from refrigerator and place on a baking pan. Mold into a loaf that’s about 10″ long and 5″ wide. Place in hot oven and cook for 40 minutes. Remove loaf from oven, and brush top and sides with tomato paste glaze. Return to oven and cook 15 minutes longer. Remove, and let stand at least 5 minutes before slicing.
Tomato Paste Glaze
Makes enough to glaze 24 slices of meatloaf
½ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1. Whisk ingredients together. Brush some on meat loaf while it’s cooking; the quantity depends on how tomato-ey you like the top of the meat loaf to be.
Up Next: Details about my upcoming wine-buying trip and recipes to rock your Super Bowl party
Photo courtesy of Cory at www.eatandrelish.com