Posts Tagged ‘bacon’

Can we just take a moment and acknowledge that despite its many virtues, meatloaf is not very photogenic?

How about if I strategically place it on a nest of *Confetti Kale?  


Yeah, still not that great. So let me say that despite its humble appearance, this meatloaf is pretty spectacular.

I’m a big fan of meatloaf. I have never understood why it has a reputation for being dull and loathsome. Probably TV, wherein broccoli and brussels sprouts are also reviled, is to blame. But seriously, what could be wrong with a dish that’s economical and receptive to so many different types of seasoning? I love the traditional beef-and-pork meatloaf with the sweet ketchupy glaze, but there’s so much room to play. Moroccan lamb. Tex-Mex chipotle. And in this case, made with lean ground turkey, spiked with fennel and topped with bacon to make it seem decadent.

And let’s face it, this time of year, we still need a bit of decadence. Here in Central Canada we still have a bit of winter left to go. While you, my west coast friends, can go enjoy your asparagus and fiddleheads, we still need some comfort food to give us the strength to carry on.

I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t written much (if anything) about fennel here yet. Fennel is one of my favourite winter flavours. I eat it sliced very thinly in salads at least once a week these days, and when I cook with it, I usually try to bump up its presence in the dish with ground fennel seeds, but in this recipe I go one step further and add ouzo to deglaze the pan when you saute the onion. A quarter-cup sounds like a lot, but it mellows in the cooking. You could ease off and just use white wine or even stock, but it’s worth the use of an unconventional cooking ingredient.  

Despite its down-home virtues I don’t really think of meatloaf as a weeknight dinner unless I’ve done most of the work in advance.  There’s a fair amount of chopping, plus the baking time is a bit long. To get a better return for your time investment, you can mix up a double batch and freeze one batch for later. Or, if you are a two-eater household like mine, (well technically three, but she’s not really into meatloaf yet), you can split the recipe below into two smaller meatloaves. One half-recipe will yield two dinner servings plus two brown-bag lunches.

*At my house, Confetti Kale is what we call a simple saute of diced red pepper and carrot, corn and kale. Onion or garlic if we feel like it. Nothing fancy, just tasty and colourful.

Turkey Fennel Meatloaf
serves 8

Do-ahead: Take the recipe through to the end of step 4 and cover the meat mixture in plastic wrap. It will keep a day or two in the fridge before baking.

2 tsp. olive or veg oil
1 medium-sized onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely diced fennel (about 1 cup)
generous pinch chili flakes
2 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly ground
1/4 cup ouzo or white wine
4 thick slices of bread, crusts removed
3/4 cup milk
2 lbs ground turkey
4 slices of bacon, finely chopped
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten

Optional: about 8-10 slices of bacon
Or: 2 tbsp. honey mustard as a glaze

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and position a rack in the centre of the oven.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion, garlic and fennel until softened and just beginning to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chili flakes and fennel seeds, and cook one minute more. Add the ouzo or wine to deglaze the pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes to reduce the liquid, until the mixture is almost dry. Remove from the pan and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

3. In a shallow dish, soak the bread in the milk for about 5 to 10 minutes, mixing once or twice so that the bread is evenly soggy but not falling apart. Lightly squeeze the bread one handful at a time to get rid of some of the milk, and finely chop it. Add the chopped bread to the cooked onion-fennel mixture.

4. To the large mixing bowl, add the ground turkey, chopped bacon, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and egg. Mix just until combined – overmixing will make the meat loaf tough.

5. Do a taste test. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Shape about a tablespoon’s worth of mixture into a patty and fry it on both sides until cooked through. Taste it and adjust the seasonings as needed.

6. To bake the meatloaf, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the meat mixture to the baking sheet and shape it into a rectangular block about 10″x4″. It will become more loaf-shaped as it cooks. If you’re using an optional topping, now is the time to drape it seductively with bacon or brush the top with honey mustard. Bake the meatloaf for approximately 45 to 50 minutes (35 to 40 if you’re baking a half-batch), until the middle registers at 165 F on a meat thermometer. Allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.


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[Ed. note: Why yes, that  bowl of soup is sitting on an armchair. It happened to be the brightest spot in my apartment at that given moment. Here in the dark Canadian winter, you take sunlight anyway you can get it. ] 

This week presents particular challenges to our digestive systems. We’re just recovering from a weekend in which holiday parties reached a feverish pitch. You’ve likely indulged in a good deal of tasty treats that were thrust your way, or just happened to be lying around, generously placed there just for you. But you know there’s more significant eating yet to come in the very near future. And you know what that means?

You need to pace yourself.

After all, you probably have just a couple of working days before the world shuts down for a little while. Slow workdays in which you will probably be too close to the plate of cookies or candy that seem to have take up permanent residence much too near to your desk. You need a lunch (or dinner) to help create some balance.  A bowl of soup, perhaps. Something easy to make. Something sustaining. Something with fibre. Something with  – dare I say it? – bacon.

I know, I know. Bacon, by rights, has no place in a healthy dish, but hear me out.  The lentils and greens are what make you feel better about yourself, but lentils usually need a lot of help to taste good. To compensate for an otherwise earthy, bland taste, you need something strong and flavourful. In this case I’ve used a fairly lean prosciutto to minimize the bacon fat, but in a pinch you could use pancetta or regular bacon.

Also, I bet you already have everything you need to make this soup on hand.

Lentil and prosciutto soup
serves 4 to 6

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup (3 oz.) prosciutto or pancetta, cut 1/2″ thick and diced
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch dried chili flakes 
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 large carrot, diced
1 or 2 ribs of celery, diced
1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups chopped kale, swiss chard or spinach
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the prosciutto (or pancetta or bacon) until slightly browned and some fat is rendered. If you’re using fatty bacon, now would be a good time to pour off some of the grease before you proceed, ;eaving some fat in the pan.

Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic, chili flakes and tomato paste; mix well and cook one or two minutes until some of the tomato paste starts to caramelize in the pan. Add the celery, carrot, lentils and stock; bringt to a boil and let simmer until the lentils and vegetables are cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes.   Just before serving, add the greens and season to taste.

With a salad, bread and a hunk of cheese, it makes a perfect winter meal.

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