Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bacon Swiss Meatloaf

Let's have a moment, shall we?  This is where I tell you how much I absolutely, unequivocally ADORE bacon.  I think that I've always liked bacon, but it's only in my adulthood that I realize what a guilty pleasure bacon is.  I mean ... under standard definition - bacon is not good for you.  But oh, it tastes good.  And oh, does it make an ordinary dish feel spectacular.

Last year for my birthday, my friends the Swensons gave me a copy of Taste of Home's "Bacon."  You can only find it on newsstands and its chock full of recipes that feature ... you guessed it, bacon.  On a recent evening, mindful that a little bit of bacon goes a long way - I adapted their Bacon Swiss Meatloaf recipe to be decadent, but a little lighter on my waistline.

Is there anything more beautiful than an end piece of meatloaf?  Why yes - a piece of meatloaf that features bacon.

Bacon Swiss Meatloaf
Adapted from Taste of Home

1 egg
1/4 c. fat-free evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/2 c. crumbled cooked bacon, divided (I ended up using about 4 slices.)
1/2 c. Progresso Italian-style breadcrumbs (it's what I had on hand ... use whatever you have in your pantry)
1 tsp. garlic powder (to keep the vampires away)
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Take a half sheet pan and spray with baking spray.  (Hint: Next time I'm going to put a baking rack on my cookie sheet to get the meatloaf up off of the pan and out of the grease this recipe produces.)

In a large bowl, combine egg, milk, 1 cup of Swiss cheese, half of the bacon, bread crumbs and garlic powder.  Mix together.  Add ground turkey over the mixture.  While thinking of a recent Ina Garten episode, I ended up using my fork to incorporate all these ingredients together.  (She was saying something about using a fork instead of your hands.  Point A - it keeps your hands cleaner, and point B - it keeps the meat from compacting and making a tougher meatloaf ... or in her case, she was making burgers.  But I digress.)  Dump onto your baking sheet and form it into a loaf-like shape.

Bake, uncovered, for one hour or until the meat is done.  Sprinkle remaining cheese and bacon.  Bake for 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Usually, I eat meatloaf with mashed potatoes.  But as I made this, I had an "oh sh*t" moment when I realized that I only had one potato in the house and not enough green beans to make a proper side dish.  So, I punted and came up with this.  

Shel's Kitchen Sink Rice Pilaf

1/2 c. basmati rice, cooked
1/2 c. wild rice, cooked
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1/4 c. sliced baby carrots
1/4 c. green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 c. water or chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. cooking oil/bacon grease ... whatever

I took my skillet and heated up a teaspoon of bacon grease.  I'd like to tell you that I used bacon grease so I could match the flavors of the meatloaf, but no ... I just keep a jar handy of bacon drippings and use that to cook most of my foods that come from a skillet.  (Decadent!)  Saute garlic in the bacon grease for about a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the vegetables, a little bit of salt and saute for about five to seven minutes.  Add rice and water/broth.  Cover skillet and cook on low until the vegetables are tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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A few random notes ...

* My friend Cathy has enlightened me on the joys of baking bacon.  Seriously ... I don't know that I'll ever bother using a skillet to make my bacon again.  The slices turn out perfectly crisp and don't curl up like they do in the skillet.  Plus, there's enough drippings left over to satisfy my yen to saute everything in bacon grease and you still get the "cooked bacon" scent in your kitchen.

* Pre-cooking rice.  Wild rice takes forever to cook and I'm not usually patient enough to wait for it to cook, so I don't use it as often as I should.  I've learned though, that you can pre-cook grains like rice and store them in your freezer until you want to use them.  It's very, very handy - I do it with brown rice and wild rice to pare off cooking time during the week.  Basmati rice is one of my favorite, go-to every day rices because it doesn't take a fortune of time to cook.

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