It has been quite cold and snowy in Ithaca the past few weeks. It must be that old March adage of “in like a lion.” I’ll suffer through, maintaining sanity with dreams of spring, warm breezes, gardening and green things poking through the dark earth.
The weather has left me craving classic comfort food. As I was wandering through Wegmans in search what to make for dinner I simply couldn’t get the thought of meatloaf and mashed potatoes out of my head.
I really wanted something super classic but after assessing some things that I had laying around, I ended up with a fairly classic meatloaf with a twist: bacon! Bacon makes everything better, it truly does, and this meatloaf was a perfect example of that. The intermittent and surprising salty bits in each bite made this really addicting. In fact, I may make it again tonight…
Bacon Studded Meatloaf with Potato-Cauliflower Mash, Roasted Asparagus and Leek and Mushroom Cream
For the Meatloaf:
- 5 slices cooked and cooled bacon, chopped
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 leek, finely diced
- 1/2 white onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, I used parsley, thyme and savory
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
- salt, pepper, olive oil
For the Potato-Cauliflower Mash
- 3 small Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
- 1/2 head cauliflower, trimmed into florets
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/8-1/4 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper
For the Mushroom and Leek Cream:
- about a cup of sliced mushrooms, I used Cremini, Oyster and Shiitake
- 1 leek, halved and sliced thin
- pinch of dry mustard
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper
You’ll also need:
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus , woody ends trimmed
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a small saute pan over medium-low heat, add about a teaspoon of olive oil. When shimmering, add leek, onion and garlic and sweat for 5-6 minutes until softened but not taking on any color. If the pan gets dry at any point, add olive oil as needed to keep everything hydrated. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, cooked bacon, eggs, panko, cooled sauteed aromatics, fresh herbs and crushed red pepper flake. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and the mixture starts to hold together. In the skillet you cooked the aromatics in, cook a small amount of the meatloaf mixture and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
On a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, add the meatloaf mixture and free form with your hands into a shape resembling a loaf. I like to make mine kind of football shaped. Place into the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes, until the top and sides are super golden brown and the middle registers 155-160 degrees. I tossed the asparagus with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and threw them right on the baking sheet with the meatloaf when it had about 15 minutes left to cook.
To prepare the potato-cauliflower mash, I added the potatoes, cauliflower florets and the clove of garlic to a pot, covered them with cold water, brought them to a boil and let them cook about 7-10 minutes until they were super tender. Drain them in a colander. Add the cream and butter to the pot and let it melt and heat to a bare simmer. Add the veg back to the pot. I used my immersion blender in short bursts to create a rough mash. I like it a little chunky. If you like it smoother, you can pass the veg through a food mill. If it’s looking a little dry, you can always add more cream 😉 Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until you’re ready to serve.
To make the mushroom and leek cream, heat a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and leek and cook until softened and beginning to brown around the edges, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cream and pinch of dry mustard and let cook at a simmer until the cream has reduced into a nice thick sauce. Taste once again for seasoning.
To plate, cut the meatloaf into about 3/4 inch thick slices once it has cooled slightly. Add a healthy amount of the mash to the plate, lay the asparagus on top, then the meatloaf and finally pour over some of the cream. Enjoy a nice twist on the classic!