Monday, February 13, 2012

Recipe: Bacon Orange Meatloaf

Age appears to be best in four things; old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read. – Sir Francis Bacon 

Wonderful taste and not fatty at all.
You know sometimes you just have to deal with what’s already in your refrigerator when you make dinner. That doesn’t have to restrict your creativity in what you prepare if you think for a while. 

This all started with 3 pork chops. I like to buy meat when it’s on sale (who doesn’t?) but sometimes the packages are an obscene size. In cooking for two what really can you do with 5 large pork chops?

Ground pork on the left; ground bacon and orange on the right.
I know, put a night between them and have pork chops twice, but that’s just… boring. Have you ever thought that the form you buy meat in isn’t necessarily the form you have to cook it in?

Of course you have. We’ve all bought steak and cubed it for stew, or cut it into strips, etc.. Have you ever thought about “grinding’ it? You don’t even need a grinder – just a good food processor.

I have made sausage several times using my food processor and it works extremely well. This means you don’t have another (largish) kitchen gadget hanging around that isn’t used very often and you have to stow away.

Grinding meat extends possible uses in a substantial way – even if you only have a little meat to “dispatch.” Sauté it in pasta sauce with onions and vegetables, or use in a myriad of Chinese dishes (lobster sauce for one), or even stretch it and make a meatloaf.

That’s what I did. But I only had 3 pork chops, not nearly enough meat. So what else is made of pork that could be hanging around in the meat drawer…? Bacon! 

Mix together everything except for the potato and flour.
Yes, there's potato in this meatloaf, but you would
never know it.
Often bacon goes on top of a meatloaf, but why not inside it? Yes, there’s a certain ratio of fat to meat you need to maintain in a meatloaf, but could it be included so it would be balanced out?

In short, yes. I trimmed off as much visible fat from the chops as possible and then let the bacon carry the day. Bacon fat also has the advantage of being smoked, which adds a layer of flavour to your meatloaf.

You may not believe this but it’s true. Even though I used all the fat attached to the bacon this was not a meatloaf swimming in fat. In fact, it had less standing fat than many meatloaves I make with ground beef.

Next up, the orange that was on my counter. In it went (seeded of course). And to top it all off I added the two best friends of orange in cooking, rosemary and sage. There are some standard binders that need to go in as well, like breadcrumbs and egg.

One odd inclusion is a grated potato. But there’s method to my madness. The starch in the potato helps bind everything together and I think it was responsible for the lack of oozing juices, which was a good thing. Moist yet "dry."

This recipe worked out very well considering there was no trip to the grocery store. Chalk another one up to the stuff you already have in your refrigerator. All it takes is imagination. What’s in your ‘fridge?

This is everything just before baking.
Bacon Orange Meatloaf
Prep: 20 min  |  Cook 1 hour  |  Serves 4
3/4 lb pork loin
10 slices bacon
1 orange
1 egg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp salt (depending on salt in bacon)
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp rosemary, dried
1/2 tsp sage, dried
1 medium potato
1/4 cup flour

Cube the pork and place it in a food processor. Chop the pork until well “ground.” Place in a large bowl.

After baking, nice and moist. Note there's no collected fat.
This is how it came out. Nothing has been poured off.
Chop the bacon into 1” pieces. Place the bacon in the food processor. Peel and seed the orange. Cut the segments in half and add to the bacon. Pulse them together until well ground. Add to the previously ground pork.

To the meats add the egg, bread crumbs, mustard, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, rosemary and sage. Mix well with your hands.

Peel and then grate the potato. Squeeze the grated potato in your hand to extract as much water as possible. Add on top of the meat. Sprinkle with the flour and mix all together until well incorporated.

Place in a 5"x9" loaf pan.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Bake the loaf in the centre of the oven until the internal temperature reaches 165°, about 1 hour.

To complete the meal roast vegetables at the same time. Why waste the heat of the oven?


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