2 pounds 85/15 ground beef
½ pound lean ground pork
½ pound bulk Italian sausage
1-1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
1-1/4 cup finely chopped onions
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3 green onion tops, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 whole raw eggs, beaten well
1/3 cup whole milk
2 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried sweet basil
1 tablespoon Frank Davis Beef Seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 package tube cheese, both mozzarella and cheddar
3/4 cup canned or bottled mushroom bits and pieces
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 slices lean centercut bacon
6 strips bell pepper, 1/2 to3/4 inches wide
1 dozen French bread pistolettes, baked crispy
THE MEATLOAF SAUCE
Meatloaf pan drippings
3 green onions, tops only, thinly sliced
1/2 pound baby Bella mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour + cornstarch (as needeed)
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
4 pats sweet cream butter
Start off by placing the oven rack in the middle position and setting the oven temperature at 375 degrees.
Then take a large bowl and drop into it the beef, the pork, and the sausage.
Then add to the meat mixture—one ingredient at a time—all the ingredients except the last six on the list.
Note: do not attempt to shortcut the recipe by “dumping” everything together! Your blend will not be consistent or uniform if you do.
For best results, forget about using a spoon—mix everything with your hands but do not overwork the meat or it will produce a tough meatloaf.
When you have the mixture blended well, go ahead and separate it into two equal portions.
At this point, take a 6 x 9 x 3 loaf pans (one you’d use to make homemade bread), grease the bottom and sides with margarine (or spray it with Pam), line the pan with a strip of parchment paper 11 x 3 inches long.
Then lay six strips of bacon - crosswise - into the pan (with the ends draping over the sides).
Now pack one half of the meat in the bottom of the pan on top of the bacon.
Next take the edge of your hand and hollow-out the center, pushing the meat up the sides of the pan, thereby creating a “trough” in the middle of the meat.
Now place the remaining two strips of bacon lengthwise down the bottom of the trough, place a couple pieces of tube cheese on top of the bacon, scatter a handful of sliced mushrooms on top of the cheese, sprinkle a little Monterey Jack over the mushrooms, then take the second portion of meat and tightly pack it into the pan on top of the stuffing.
Once this is done, allow yourself enough time to seal the meat edges well with your fingers so that the top and bottom layers “fuse” together.
Don’t be afraid to press down hard—this will keep the layers from separating as the loaf cooks. By the way, this is when you fold the bacon edges tightly over the loaf.
Now, using the strip of parchment paper as an anchor, flip the meat out of the loafpan and onto a foil-lined sheet pan with sides (immediately shape the meat into a uniform “loaf” with your hands).
Then gently tuck the bacon under the bottom of the loaf with a plastic egg turner (if you wet the egg turner it will release easily from the bacon strips).
Finally, position the strips of bell pepper between the bacon strips and press them gently into the meatloaf.
All that’s left to do is slide the sheet pan into the oven and bake the loaf for about 50 minutes to an hour or until the top of the loaf turns a crispy golden brown.
To make slicing easier, and to keep the cheesy insides from running out when you slice, you should allow the loaf to rest on the countertop for about 15 minutes before you cut it.
Oh, yeah—the insure the meatloaf’s doneness, use a food thermometer to make sure the center of it reaches 160 degrees internal temperature before serving.
Before you serve the loaf make your “Dippin’ Gravy.” Drain off the sheet pan drippings into a 2-quart sauce pan and heat it to bubbling.
Then toss in about a half cup of minced green onions and 8 ounces of chopped Baby Portabellas and cook them until tender (about 3 or 4 minutes).
Now, very slowly and gently, whisk in a little flour or corn starch, mixed with cold water, and one teaspoon of lemon juice , and simmer it over medium-high heat (stirring it constantly) until you create a delicate, but full-flavored sauce.
A smidge of Kitchen Bouquet will enrich the color and a pat or two of butter creamed into the almost finished sauce will round out the smoothness.
All that’s left is to slice the loaf, top it with the sauce, and have at it.
I recommend you serve this meatloaf with mashed garlic potatoes and butter and a side of buttered whole kernel corn. Yeah—and, of course, some hot toasty crispy pistolettes.