A lot of people consider meatloaf the quintessential comfort food. But it’s much than that to me. Meatloaf is one of those dishes that transcends its ingredients. It’s part of the fabric of life for me and a lot of other people of my generation.
Growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, meatloaf was a visitor to our dining room table at least once a week. We usually had it with baked potatoes and some cream-style corn. It also was one of the mainstays at our school hot lunch.
Meatloaf still is one of my favorite foods. And I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it. Just recently, I came across the following recipe that was adapted from one that originated at Wildcat Willies in Springdale, Utah, and was featured in the Los Angeles Times and distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
What caught my eye was that it combined ground hamburger with ground bison and elk, both of which I have in my freezer. The meatloaf is spiced up with steak seasoning, a little marinara to keep it moist and colorful diced red and green peppers.
Wildcat Willies Wild Game Meatloaf
1 pound hamburger (15 percent fat)
½ pound ground bison
½ pound ground elk or venison
½ cup diced red pepper
½ cup diced green pepper
½ cup diced onion
1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs
1½ teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning
1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons marinara sauce
1 pound bacon
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the hamburger, ground bison and elk or venison. Add the red and green pepper, the onion, bread crumbs, egg, steak seasoning and marinara. Mix the ingredients with your hands, kneading well to thoroughly incorporate. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Line a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan or dish with bacon. Pack the meatloaf mixture into the dish, then very gently invert onto a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle over a pinch each of kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and granulated garlic.
Bake the meatloaf for 1 hour then increase the heat to 400 degrees and continue to bake the meatloaf until the bacon is crisp and a thermometer inserted in the center of the meatloaf reaches 165 degrees, 15 to 30 minutes (timing will vary depending on how quickly the oven heats). Remove and set aside for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 550 calories, 31 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 38 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 115 milligrams cholesterol, 6 grams sugar, 909 milligrams sodium.