Think "open sandwich" - and you'll be in the right area.
Hubby and I were pondering over what we had in the fridge that needed using and what we could do with these various things. Having been blogging for the last three or four years - yes, it's been THAT long - we've got quite good at doing this kind of thing. When hubby first suggested an open sandwich affair with the bacon, I pricked up my ears. I've not done too many open sandwiches - and certainly not dinner varieties.
We'd been discussing meatloaves, as I recently made some Forfar Bridies (similar to a Cornish Pasty, except with no vegetables) that failed miserably - but the filling of them would have stood up against a fair amount of competition, as a meatloaf. However, bacon meatloaf? Bacon and what, though? Not sausagemeat - too potentially salty and greasy. Pork mince was mooted first, but then I remembered some meatballs I'd made with turkey mince and how successful they were. Turkey mince has an inherent sweetness that would go nicely with the smoked bacon and it also has the ability to stick together, without encouragement such as egg.
I decided to do a little bit of research on what other people have put into their turkey meatloaves and decide from there what alternative ingredients to use.
So when hubby suggested we use the meatloaf on an open sandwich type affair, it sounded very interesting indeed. We discussed whether to use a cut loaf like soda bread for the bread part, but decided the open texture of a ciabatta would be better suited to the close texture of a meatloaf - and even better, had a sudden brainwave to use a Leerdammer cheese melted on top which would serve to bring the whole sandwich together. With something tasty under the meatloaf, it sounded like we were onto a winner.
Well, I made it this evening (actually, I started at about 3 o'clock this afternoon) and it was really good. No, really, really good.
The meatloaf ingredients were turkey mince, bacon (half minced finely, half chopped roughly), a small amount of breadcrumbs, a small amount of parmesan cheese, a red onion, a clove of garlic, some fresh parsley, some dried thyme, white pepper and four mushrooms. I didn't use any salt at all, as with the bacon and parmesan cheese, I reckoned (and I was right) that there was already enough salt in the mix.
I used the food processor to finely chop (almost down to a paste), the onion, garlic, parsley, tail end of the smoked bacon rashers, thyme, white pepper and mushrooms. This then got mixed with the breadcrumbs, roughly chopped bacon (for texture), turkey mince and parmesan cheese. Packed into a silver foil lined one pound loaf tin and cooked for an hour in a hot oven, it was smelling wonderful. I then drained the juice from the loaf tin and turned the loaf out into a roasting tin - upside down - and gave it another 20 minutes in the hot oven, just to give the outside edge some colour and dry the loaf out a little.
Hubby had some red onion marmalade on his toasted ciabatta, but son & heir and myself erred on the side of caution and went for a zig zag of tomato ketchup. With the meatloaf slices laid on top and the cheese melted over, it really was so good.
Hence, the next time you're thinking "meatloaf" and decide against it because it's boring. Think again and put it on some ciabatta toast with melted cheese. Awesome.
I served ours with some home made coleslaw and watercress salad. Beautiful.
The very best bit is that we've just under half the meatloaf left, for lunch tomorrow. Yum. The following recipe feeds three people, so remember to grill more ciabatta rolls and provide more Leerdammer cheese if you're making for more, or extra hungry people. The meatloaf itself would happily make eight open sandwiches.
TURKEY & BACON MEATLOAF OPEN CIABATTA SANDWICH
1 red onion, cut into chunky pieces
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 small bunch fresh parsley (to make 2 tbsp)
400g smoked bacon rashers
1 tsp dried thyme
4 chestnut mushrooms, cut into quarters
half a tsp white pepper
2 large handfuls white breadcrumbs
20g finely grated parmesan cheese
500g minced turkey
2 ciabatta rolls, each cut into two equal halves
1 tsp red onion marmalade or tomato ketchup
4 slices of Leerdammer cheese.
1. Take the bacon and trim away the majority of the fat, which should be discarded. Separate the tail (streaky) end from the eye (lean) part and finely chop the tail end. Cut the eye part into three long slices, then chop into decent size squares so that they will provide some texture to the meatloaf.
2. Into a food processor, place the red onion pieces, chopped garlic, parsley (broken into a manageable size), thyme, the finely chopped tail end of the bacon rashers, mushroom pieces and pepper. Chop until the mixture begins to resemble a paste, but stop just as that happens.
3. Tip the paste into a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and turkey mince. Scrunch the ingredients together with your hands, until thoroughly mixed.
4. Decant into a one pound loaf tin, previously lined with tin foil to make removing the meatloaf much easier.
5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200degC/400degF/Gas 6 for one hour.
6. Once the time is up, gently tip the meatloaf tin and pour off the liquid. Then gently remove the loaf from the tin - using the silver foil to lift it into a roasting tin. Flip the meatloaf onto its head and replace into the oven for a further 20 minutes, to brown the outside and dry the loaf out a little.
7. While the meatloaf is finishing cooking, grill the four halves of ciabatta roll and coat with your choice of either red onion marmalade or tomato ketchup.
8. Once the meatloaf is baked, slice and lay a slice (or more) onto each half of roll.
9. Cover the meatloaf with a slice of Leerdammer cheese, then place under the hot grill for 2-3 minutes, just enough to melt the cheese.
Serve with a watercress salad and coleslaw.