What happens when Food & Wine meets Pioneer Woman meets The South? An explosion of flavor and food bliss. Use as many local, fresh ingredients as possible for a refreshing twist on the standard meat loaf. Even your mother-in-law will love this one (mine did!).
I borrowed ideas from both Shea Gallante and Ree Drummond and added my own unique twist to satisfy my taste for red wine, fresh herbs and spices along with my good ‘ol country boy husband’s taste for the standard rice and ketchup.
Don’t let the length of the recipe shy you away. As long as you have all your ingredients measured and ready to go, the preparation goes rather quickly.
NOTE: Beef and eggs were purchased from the St. Albans Farmer’s Market in Hixson, TN. Onion, bell pepper, garlic, and various herbs were purchased at the Main Street Farmer’s Market in Chattanooga, TN. Be sure to chop all fresh herbs finely so you can measure by teaspoon full’s.
Ingredients 350 Oven for 1 Hour
- 2 lbs ground beef (or chuck)
- 3 slices white bread
- 1/2 c. milk
- 1 c. cooked rice (I use minute rice – it’s quick and simple)
- 2 T. butter, melted
- 1 medium onion, diced fine
- 1 small bell pepper, diced fine (I used green, but really any color will do – keep in mind the yellow and oranges will vary the taste slightly)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 2 T. parsley
- 1 1/2 t. sage
- 1 t. thyme
- 1 t. basil
- 1 T. kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 t. season salt
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste (be careful – it goes a long way)
- 1 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (try not to substitute, but if you must because of budget or time, you can use regular shredded Parmesan or Romano – don’t use the canned stuff – use the grated kind in a plastic bowl or bag)
- 1/2 c. ketchup
- 1 medium tomato, parboiled
- 1 t. sweet sorghum (I use Muddy Pond and usually just pour a good dollop in – but do it to your taste)
- 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
- 1/4 c. dry red wine
- 1 t. dry mustard
- Tabasco to taste (I use regular hot sauce) – just a few drops is fine
Parboil a tomato (plunge in boiling water for 1 minute). Remove from water and let cool slightly (this is a good time to start getting all your ingredients together. Once the tomato is cool enough to handle, remove the outer skin and cut out the rind part from the top and bottom of the tomato. Squeeze tomato through your fingers into a medium sauce pan (as if you were going to prepare tomato sauce). Add ketchup, sorghum, brown sugar, red wine, dry mustard, and Tabasco. Mix well and let come to a gentle boil. Sauce will probably have a lot of liquid.
Turn the heat down to a good simmer (slight boil) and allow the liquid to reduce by about 1/3. You don’t want liquid, but you don’t want a super thick sauce either. While sauce is simmering begin preparing your meatloaf.
Place bread and milk in a large mixing bowl. Let soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Cook enough rice to make 1 cup and set aside. Place butter in skillet over medium heat to melt. When it attains a rich golden brown color, add the fresh diced onion and bell pepper. Cook 7 minutes until slightly tender. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Do not overcook garlic – it will bake further in the oven. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, add 2 beaten eggs, parsley, sage, thyme, basil, salt, pepper, season salt, nutmeg, cayenne, and cheese. Mix well and add onion mixture and rice. Mash the break and milk mixture until a paste is formed. Add the egg/onion/rice mixture to the bread and mix well. Add ground beef to this mixture. Wash hands thoroughly and then begin working ingredients through the beef. Work the beef as if you were kneading dough, making sure all the egg/onion mixture is thoroughly incorporated into the beef. The loaf will be somewhat soft and will not hold together very well. This is ok – it is the consistency you want as it is what makes for a juicy, tender meatloaf.
Check your sauce – it should be ready. Stir well – taste and make any necessary adjustments. It’s usually spot-on for red wine lovers, but you may prefer other ingredients as well. If you love BBQ sauce, you might consider adding a few tablespoons now. Or if you have other saucy ingredients you like, now is the time to add them and adjust everything to a final taste. Remove from burner and set aside.
Line the bottom of a broiler pan with foil and place the slotted piece over the foil (you’ll thank me when you do dishes tonight). Spray the slotted pan with cooking spray. Place meat on pan and GENTLY begin forming an oblong loaf from the meat, about 2 inches thick. It should end up being about a 9×12 loaf. I don’t put this in the standard bread pans like some recipes call for. This method ensures even cooking and retained moisture.
Next, begin wrapping the top of the meatloaf with bacon. I usually end up using about 7 or 8 whole pieces. Be sure to tuck the ends of each piece of bacon under the meatloaf.
Finally, top with 1/3 of the sauce. Bake 45 minutes at 350. Remove from oven and spread another 1/3 of sauce over the top. Return to oven and bake for 15 additional minutes. Remove from oven. Slice and serve with remaining sauce.
Serve with fresh mashed potatoes (using butter and evaporated milk and kosher salt as mixers) as well as fresh fried okra (I simply cut the okra, rinse well with water, dredge in cornmeal from the market and then fry in a mixture of bacon grease and canola oil).
Submitted by Ginger Terrell. ©2012
Ginger is recently married, a MiMi to 2 beautiful grandchildren, and a full time college student pursuing her Bachelors in Business Administration at Bryan College. She is dedicated to learning about and participating in the local food experience in Chattanooga. Her sister-in-law, Mary Haymaker writes a local food blog, Chattavore, and is responsible for influencing Ginger in the local food scene.