I am going to cut to the chase quickly on this one. Last week I baked meatloaf. It changed me forever. I discovered that the online mafia and everyone else (not sure who these people are) who say that meatloaves are dry tasteless bricks lie. Only Caroline is right. Meatloaves can be manna. A good one transformative. A great one.. can turn the house into an asylum. Just the sight of this loaf had us skipping around the house, praying for patience. Meryl was hopping on a single leg to help her wait through the baking and then doing ‘calming-down-an-overactive mind yogasans’ to help her stop thinking about the remaining loaf in the kitchen. Atul opened his eyes the next morning, turned to me lovingly and said – ‘meatloaf’. And I …I was smirking my way through it all!
This is no dry bread with crust of wood. This is gold. This is the cinnamon roll of the meat world! The sauce – beautiful, sweet, sour, spicy and at the end of baking, gets even better as some of the cheese melts into it along with the rendered bacon fat resulting in a rich smokey-spicey-sweet emulsion. The meat itself is moist, juicy, cheesy – like the very best sausage you have ever had. Only better. And the crust – the crust is endless sexy strips of bacon. Sigh! Need I say more?
Bacon and BBQ Sauce Meatloaf (one gigantic loaf which should feed 6-8 but didn’t)
- .75 cup Whole Milk
- 5 slices bread, crust removed
- .25 cup breadcrumbs
- 500 gm minced mutton
- 500 gm minced chicken
- 1 cup (heaping) Freshly Grated Cheese (I used cheddar and it worked beautifully)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1/3 cup Minced Flat-leaf Parsley
- 2 tablespoon minced rosemary
- 2 teaspoon thyme
- half an onion, grated
- 6-9 pounded garlic cloves
- 3 whole Eggs Beaten
- 10 slices Thin/regular Bacon
- 3/4 cup hot and sweet ketchup
- 3/4 cup BombayC’s BBQ sauce (below)
- 3 tablespoons soft sugar (I used brown sugar but you could do with jaggery too)
- 3 tablespoons mustard
1. Preheat oven to 175 C. Pour the milk over the bread slices and let soak for about 10 minutes till soft. Mash well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Adjust seasoning. The mix should not be a gooey flowing mass but be something you can shape into a loaf. To tighten, add a few more crumbs and to loosed, add 1 more egg. Form into a loaf.
2. Lay the loaf on a baking tray. (great of you have a ridged pan to catch the juices but a baking pan should work too). Cover the loaf with your strips of bacon. I started the edge of each bacon strip in the middle and tucked the end under the loaf. By repeating this on both sides, I was able to cover the whole loaf and get a fish bone sort of a pattern. However, you can do this anyway. The goal is to cover the loaf. The loaf may expand a bit while cooking and the bacon may warp so do overlap the strips to account for this.
3. Mix the ingredients for the basting sauce, pour 1/3 cup over the loaf and spread with a spoon or a basting brush. Adjust sugar and mustard to you liking. (If you don’t have the time or the patience to make my BBQ sauce – though I highly recommend it for the depth you could even wing it with mixing any ketchup, chilli sauce(tabasco or any other), brown sugar and mustard in proportions that work for you.
4. Tuck the little baby into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and baste with another 1/3 cup. If the bacon is getting all warped, use toothpicks to secure in place. Pop back into the oven for another 30 minutes.
5. My loaf was done at this point and this should work for you too. However, if you own a meat thermometer, the best thing would be to check if the internal temperature reads between 160-170 f. Another test is to check that when poked, the juices are clear and not red or cloudy. (you can raise a bit fo the bacon to poke the loaf and none will be the wiser!!)
6. Rest outside the oven, for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
7. Serve sliced, with parsley, along with the remaining sauce and the juices in the pan and a side salad. (which by this time we were busy spooning into our mouths actually!). Mashed potatoes are supposed to be great accompaniments but frankly we were too busy gorging ourselves to pause for that thought.. The loaf is best the same day but re-heated leftover slices make excellent sandwich. But that’s when you do have leftovers :D!!
BombayChowparty’s BBQ sauce
This a great sauce and one I use for many thing from burgers to burritos to ribs. Works well every time!
- Oil – .25 cup Oil
- Onion – 1, finely chopped Onion
- Tart apple – 2 – peeled and finely chopped/grated Tart Apples
- Peach – 1 – peeled and finely chopped/grated Peach
- Celery – 2 stalks – finely chopped
- Brown sugar – .5cup
- Vinegar – .5cup
- Garlic – 1.5T mashed
- Mustard – .25c
- Blanched tomatoes – 6
- Tomato puree – 150-200 ml packet
- Cinnamon – 1 stick
- Chilli flakes – to taste
- Soy sauce – .25 cup
Add finely chopped onions, celery and garlic to oil, cook on medium-low heat for atleast 10 to 15 minutes till onions are soft. Add the tart apple, peach and further cook till well softened and most of the water has evaporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook till reduced well. To be honest, at the point on I sort of wing it and add adjust the sugar/tomato/vinegar as required to get the flavour balance that most works for me. Some people prefer their sauce sweeter, some more sour and some spicier. Find the balance that works for you. Adding more soy can compensate for salt and also add a deeper colour and flavour to the sauce. Cook on simmer and reduce the sauce till thick and consistency of ketchup. Cool. You could use it this way if you dont mind the sauce chunky. If you need it to be smoother, run it through the mixer/food mill and boil it once more.