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Bacon and Beef Meatloaf

          My friend Larry Hui is one of the leaders of a group of volunteers who help out at a homeless shelter in our neighborhood. I cook for the shelter and when I do, I often serve this meatloaf. It hits home with the men (and they are all men) and it’s a particular favorite of Larry’s so I am happy to share it here.
         Meatloaf is one step away from a great pate. This version is a hearty and rich loaf that you can put high on the list of favorite comfort foods especially when you serve it, as served here, with some mashed potatoes and buttered haricots verts.
         The secret to a really great meatloaf is to keep it moist, not to overwork the mixing of the ingredients and choose a bread that adds more than just bulk to your meatloaf and contributes to its texture.
           In the case of this meatloaf, I use fresh challah or brioche rolls. Since both of these contain eggs, my theory is that they not only add volume to the meatloaf, they also help bind it. And they are both lovely light breads. I always use fresh because I don’t want the bread to be sopping up the moisture, I want it to contribute to it.
          The other secret of this recipe is, of course, the bacon. As Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food”, noted recently in the New York Times magazine, if you appear on one of the numerous Food contests on TV, you can almost guarantee a win by adding bacon to virtually anything you make. I’m a huge bacon fan. In fact, when I make this recipe for the Shelter,  I cover the top of each loaf with strips of bacon so that every piece gets one. The photographed version here is less heavy handed but there’s bacon in every bite.
This is all you need to make a great meatloaf.


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