Had a hankering for meat loaf yesterday. Maybe it's the cooler weather, maybe the start of football season, I don't know but I had to have it. So I went and gathered the ingredients and proceeded to make a complete mess.
1.25 lb. package of meatloaf mix (beef, pork and veal)
One pkg pre chopped mire poix (celery, onion, carrot) it was a 1lb. deli container, not sure on actual weight
One pkg baby Bella mushrooms Again, not sure on weight, but it looked like a pint container
About a tsp each fresh thyme and rosemary, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
About a tsp salt
A few dashes Worcestershire.
About a teaspoon black pepper
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup nfdm powder
3 stale hot dog buns
Now this looks like a LOT of stuff to put in a pound and a quarter of meat. And it is. I'd recently read a couple articles about meatloaf on Food Wishes so wanted to try and incorporate a couple of the ideas. One was called "Prison Meatloaf" in which he doubled the amount of bread crumbs soaked in milk to stretch it, and ended up with a very tender and juicy result. The other involved adding a LOT of veggies for the same reason. So I figured, why not take it as far as possible?
I started off my running the mire poix and mushrooms through the food processor until they were maybe 1/8" chunks. Then I sautéed them with the salt, garlic and fresh herbs in butter until they were just about tender. My thinking here was to cook out a lot of the moisture, but then I changed my mind. I sautéed them until a good amount of moisture (maybe a half cup) was pooled in the skillet and stopped. I decided to soak the breadcrumbs in the liquid from the veggies instead of milk. So I ran the hot dog buns through the food processor until they were fine crumbs, transferred the veggies and liquid to a large bowl and mixed them together. I allowed this to sit for 30 minutes to cool and allow the bread crumbs to soak up the liquid. Then I just dumped in the meat and the rest of the ingredients and mixed them all up. It was a gooey, soupy MESS. There was no way in Hades this was coming together to form a loaf. I considered adding more meat, but then I remembered crab cakes. To make a good crab cake, you gotta make a very loose mixture then put it in the fridge for an hour until it firms up. Since the binder in my meat loaf was the same as for crab cakes (breadcrumbs and egg) I figured I'd give it a shot. After an hour in the fridge it had firmed up just enough to shape it.
So, this being destined for the smoker, and me having learned from the best here on SMF, I did what any BBQ guy worth his salt would do. I made a bacon weave. Constructed a 7x7 weave and sprinkled it with my standard bbq rub. Then dumped the meat mess in the middle and formed a loaf. Then using the saran wrap under the weave, carefully rolled it into shape and plopped it onto the bottom of my springform pan, I think it's about a 10" circle. BBQ rub was sprinkled on the top side, which is the inside of the bacon weave. Figured might as well season the bacon and the meat at the same time.
Then I thought about all the liquid that was gonna cook out, so I put the spring form on the pan to keep it from making a complete mess of the mini.
Fired up some Trader Joe's Briqs and smoked it at 325° with 2 chunks of pecan until it hit about 130° internal. I would have taken it all the way, but I think since it was protected by the pan, the bacon wasn't getting crispy. So I took it out and heated the oven to 425°. It rested about 15 minutes while the oven heated up. During the wait, I made a little glaze out of some chili garlic paste, brown sugar and maple syrup. Brushed a thin coat of that all over. Then about 20 minutes in the oven till it hit 160°, a 10 minute rest in which it hit 165°, and it was FINALLY time to eat.
The first slice fell apart. But after another 10 minutes or so, it had cooled enough to hold together. It was the most tender, moist, flavorful meatloaf I've had in quite a while. The smoke was spot on, and the little kick from the glaze was just enough to grab your attention. The extra fillers really gave it a nice texture and flavor. You could taste and feel the veggies, but the meat and smoke were definitely the stars of the show.
Forgot to get a sliced and plated pic, but here's one after a night in the fridge.
Thanks for looking!!
Edited by Mdboatbum - 9/12/16 at 9:34am