Bison and Blue Cheese Meatloaf (Bacon Wrapped)

Meatloaf has always represented comfort food for me. My grandma’s meatloaf recipe was one of the first dishes I ever learned to cook and has provided me with a sense of continuity and stability whenever I have cooked it. The recipe has remained virtually unchanged except for a slight update in ingredients such as replacing onion soup with sauteed onions and garlic as well as the addition of a teaspoon of hotsauce. As far as cooking techniques the only change has been the addition of home ground top sirloin instead of store bought ground beef.

So it was with some trepidation but also some excitement that I read through the Fine Cooking article on meatloaf in the February/March edition and came up with some ideas of how to lift meatloaf out of being just comfort food and turn it into a star attraction.

Meatloaf Recipe: Based on the Cooking without Recipes – Meatloaf in the Feb/Mar Fine Cooking Magazine

2 1/2 Lbs. of Ground Top Sirloin Bison
2 large eggs
1 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp. sriracha hot sauce
1 medium white onion finely diced
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
4 cloves of garlic minced
3/4 cups red wine
4 oz. staled french bread in 2″x2″ cubes
1 cup skim milk
1/3 cup camb0zola cheese crumbled
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
300 grams double smoked bacon

I ground the bison myself, actually I put it through the grinder twice to get a nice texture from the meat. Once ground refrigerate the meat for about 30 minutes.

Saute the onions, garlic and shallots on medium-high heat in a tbsp of olive oil until they are browning. Then add the wine and reduce to a simmer until almost all the wine is absorbed. Set aside in a bowl to cool.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Meanwhile place the bread cubes in a 9″x9″ baking pan and add the milk. Soak for 5 minutes and turn over and soak for a further 5 minutes. Remove the bread cubes a few at a time making sure to squeeze out any extra milk. Chop the cubes finely and add to the meat.

Add the eggs, hot sauce, onion/garlic/shallot/wine mixture, cheese, worcestershire, tarragon, salt and pepper to the meat and mix by hand.

Grease a baking sheet. Shape the meat mixture into a loaf shape on the baking sheet. Lay bacon over the entire loaf, overlapping each slice slightly.

Place in oven for approximately 60-70 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160° F. Then raise the oven rack so that the top of the meatloaf is 6″ from the broiler and broil until the bacon is nice and browned. Remove the meatloaf and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

This was, by far the most amazing meatloaf me or my dinner guests have ever had and there are a couple of reasons for this. The first is the moistness thanks to the milk soaked breadcrumbs. Second would be the wine reduction with the onions, shallots and garlic and the third reason, of course, was the bacon.

Charcuterie Challenge #2

Pancetta and Fresh Bacon

The second challenge for Charcutepalooza was issued on January 15th and I am really behind the eight ball on this one. I need to complete the curing and have an article and recipe for one of the two meats by February 15th and I have only finished the fresh bacon. The pancetta will need two weeks to cure and so will be past the deadline. To make the timing a little more difficult, we are heading to Mexico for a week and so will only have one day once we are back to do the post.

Anyhow…we bought an 11 pound pork belly and brought it home last week.

Pork Belly Skin Removed

Removed the skin and cut the belly in half and cured two ways. One a basic salt cure and the other a traditional italian cure both again from Michael Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

The Pancetta Half

Both the pancetta and bacon cured in the fridge for a week until the pork belly was nice and firm and then removed.

Fresh Bacon Out of the Oven

The bacon was roasted in the oven under low heat until it reached a temperature of 150º F, removed from the oven to cool and then sliced and frozen.

Fresh Frozen Bacon

The pancetta was rolled tightly, tied and then hung in my new home curing chamber for 2 weeks at 60º F and a humidity of 60%.

Rolled Pancetta

The bacon tastes great and I am looking forward to trying it in a recipe to be determined. The pancetta looks really good but we will see in 14 days.

Pancetta Curing in the New Chamber

Bacon Marmalade – First Attempt

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, one of the major reasons I started blogging was to document my journey to replicate the bacon jam that we tasted at the Niagara Street Cafe. The bacon jam seemed more like a marmalade to me so that is where I decided to start.

I took a basic marmalade recipe that is simply:

4 Oranges
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar

Usually you would use the peels from all of the oranges but I didn’t want all of the peel flavour. So I used the peel from one orange chopped finely. Then removed the peel from the other 3 oranges and chopped all 4 oranges keeping as much pith as possible. The pectin is in the peel and pith and since I am only using the peel from 1 orange I need more pith.

Put the orange and peel in a bowl of cold water and refrigerate for at least an hour. Then remove from water and put into a pot with a cup of fresh cold water. Heat until boiling and then cover and simmer for an hour.

Once the orange and peel have simmered for an hour add a cup of sugar and reheat to boiling. Reduce and simmer the mixture until the temperature is 220° F. Use a candy thermometer to measure this. But if you don’t have one you can check by taking a teaspoon of the marmalade out and putting it into a bowl. If it sets within a minute then it is ready.  Takes approximately 40-60 minutes to get to the required temperature.

Meanwhile I cut a pound of double smoked bacon into lardons and sauteed over medium-high heat until just short of crisping. Removed from the pan and then sauteed 1 medium onion, finely diced, in the bacon fat for 5 minutes then removed. I gave the lardons a further chop to get to a fine dice and then mixed with the onions and let cool and placed the mixture into a one pint jar.

Once the marmalade was done I put it through a strainer into a pint jar with the bacon since I only want the liquid portion of the marmalade and not the pulp and peel.

Overall the bacon marmalade was good but not quite what I was looking for. There is too much peel taste in the marmalade compared to the Niagara Street Cafe version, so on the next attempt I will just make an orange jam or jelly to mix with the bacon. It will still make a great glaze for a pork roast or pork tenderloin.

DIY Pea Meal Bacon Disaster!

Newly Pea Mealed Bacon

After 25 days of carefully watching over my brining pork loins, turning them every week and making sure the temperature was perfect, we pulled them out of the brine, dried them and rolled them in corn meal. They looked great! But of course the big test is how it tastes. This morning I cut a slice for each of our breakfasts, pan fried them and served them with eggs and toast. The verdict….inedible!

Ready for the Fry Pan

Somehow I screwed up the recipe is my guess. They were unbelievably salty. So salty that even a Swede wouldn’t eat them. So it is back to the drawing board. The recipe that I posted earlier in the month needs to be re-evaluated based on my results. At least I didn’t poison anyone.

If there is anyone out there who is making their own pea meal bacon perhaps they could give me some advice?

Oh well, back to the store to pick up more pork loin and my new shipment of pink salt came in so I am ready for another attempt once I recalculate. Just wish it didn’t take a month to see the results.

Chocolate Bacon Braised Lamb Shanks

After tasting my Chocolate Bacon Jam in my last post, I thought that it would be perfect as a base for braising either lamb shanks or short ribs. Having 4 lamb shanks in the fridge sealed the deal for me.

Recipe:

4 Lamb Shanks
1 Tbsp. Bacon Fat
1 Med. Yellow Onion chopped
3 Carrots Chopped
3 Celery Stalks Chopped
3 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 Cup Red Wine
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Water
2/3 Cups Chocolate Bacon Jam
5 Peppercorns
1 tsp. dried rosemary

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown all sides of the lamb shanks in the bacon fat in a 4 quart dutch oven on medium-high heat. Remove the shanks and saute the onion, celery and carrots on medium heat until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a further minute.

Add the wine, broth, water, jam, peppercorns and rosemary and heat until boiling, making sure that any of the brown crispy bits on the bottom of the dutch oven are scraped off. Once the liquid is boiling then remove from heat and add the lamb shanks to the liquid. Cover the dutch oven and put into the oven for 3 hours.

Remove the shanks and strain the liquid then reduce liquid by half on the stovetop over medium low heat. Spoon liquid over the lamb.

I served the lamb with roasted root vegetables including baby turnips, fingerling potatoes, carrots, and golden beets then paired the meal with a 2005 E. Guigal Gigondas.

2005 E. Guigal Gigondas

Chocolate Bacon Jam

The obsession continues. Just plain bacon jam was obviously not good enough so when we tasted our finished product it gave me an idea. Why don’t we add espresso instead of coffee and also some chocolate to add richness and depth to the bacon jam.

Game on!

Chocolate Bacon Jam – an original Saint Elk recipe

4 lbs of double smoked bacon chopped
2 medium white onions chopped
2 oz. 90% cacao dark chocolate
2 cups of espresso
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup of molasses
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups water

Cook the chopped bacon on medium heat until brown but before it becomes crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside. Cook the chopped onions on medium low heat until the onions start to take on a light caramel colour approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan.

Combine all ingredients except for 1 1/2 cups of water in a dutch oven and heat until boiling then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Every 30 minutes add another half cup of water.

Once the liquid has been reduced to a thick syrupy mixture remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Place mixture into a food processor and puree for about 30 seconds.

Dark Chocolatey Colour

There you have it. Rich and velvety undertones of chocolate and espresso but with the salty, savoriness of the bacon.

The Finished Product

This is going to be a great flavouring for the braised lamb shanks I am going to make tomorrow.

We’re Jammin’…Bacon Jammin’

Extreme Makeover Bacon Before Shot

Today was a very good day. Any day that involves cooking 4 lbs. of bacon has to be great. This was the start of our exploration into the world of bacon preserves. We started out easy basing our jam on a recipe from Not Quite Nigella.

The Recipe

4 lbs. choppeddouble smoked bacon
3 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup minced garlic
4 cups brewed coffee
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar

Start by cooking the bacon on medium heat until it is browning and not quite getting crispy. Then remove the bacon from the pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan and combine with the bacon and all the other ingredients in a 4 quart dutch oven.

Cooked for 2 Hours and Ready for the Processor

Bring to a boil and then simmer for approximately 2 hours until the all of the liquid has been reduced. Then let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes and then puree in a food processor for about 30 seconds.

Ready for Toast

The jam is in jars and should be good in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Tomorrow morning we will have it on toast with poached eggs. For lunch we will have it on a chicken sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce. Tomorrow night maybe as the rub on a pork loin roast.