Birthday beef

Posted 1/25/23

I’ve had meatloaf for many of my birthdays over the years. When I was a kid, it was one of the best things my mom made me, thus it was requested several times. When I got older and got hitched …

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Birthday beef


I’ve had meatloaf for many of my birthdays over the years. When I was a kid, it was one of the best things my mom made me, thus it was requested several times. When I got older and got hitched to a good-lookin’ and fine-cookin’ woman, the meatloaf never waned in its deliciousness.

This year was no exception to my history of meatloaf birthday dinners. My wife kindly informed me that meatloaf was what we were going to have when my family came over later that evening. I of course was not going to complain. What had me excited was that this year she planned to wrap the whole thing in bacon for some extra flair.

I was so excited about it that I told my coworker about the meaty myriad that was to come. As we conversed about our favorite tips and tricks for a nice juicy meatloaf and not a dry brick of meat and bread, she suggested stuffing it with cheese and spinach.

Not wanting to delay the delivery of this epiphany, I called my wife and made the formal request for an adjusted meal plan. My wife being the fantastic chef that she is, decided to heed my appeal.

Everything is better with bacon, even delicious meatloaf.
Everything is better with bacon, even delicious meatloaf.

I can only drool over my keyboard so much as I attempt to convey the sweet smells that greeted me that evening as I walked in the door with our boys. Peeking in the oven window, I could see the sizzling bacon exterior as it sweated the juices of carnilicious flavor down and around the fresh meatloaf. I could hardly wait for it to finish cooking, knowing nearly all the ingredients came from our harvest over the past year, including bacon I had personally brined and smoked and sliced, fresh hamburger from a fresh farm cow, that I had also ground myself, and even spinach we grew and froze. The only significant ingredient we hadn’t made was the dairy.

Do you have to personally grow and process your own ingredients to have a good dish? No, Mrs. Hill makes a mean meatloaf even with grocery-store ingredients. However, it did add to the mounting suspense, as I watched the clock slowly tick by and listened to the sound of searing protein. For those of you who might be concerned about my cholesterol at this point, never fear… she made a lovely salad to go with it.

The way out here we all have that favorite meal that means just a little bit more to us individually. For me it’s meatloaf, and despite its humble status, I cling to it like a loyalist and will boast its culinary accolades as often as I enjoy its savory heartiness. I may be a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, but no one ever said you couldn’t dress up your meat with a little more meat… and cheese… and spinach.

Hungry yet? While you consider the pros and cons of taking the time to make this for yourselves, just remember these four words of secret gastronomic wisdom: Bacon makes everything better.

Bacon-wrapped meatloaf

Recipe adapted from

  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 6 ounces thin-sliced ham, as for sandwiches
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, cut in 8 slices
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and chopped
  • 2 pounds bacon, sliced, or enough to cover your meatloaf

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix the ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs and seasonings.

Line two baking trays with aluminum foil.

Put meat mixture in one of the trays. Spread mixture out evenly.

Arrange the ham on the meat, followed by the cheese slices. Leave about a half-inch of border.

Spread the spinach on top, covering all evenly.

Choose a side and roll the meat up. Use the press-and-roll technique: roll up the meat, and as you go, keep it tightly pinched. Pull the aluminum foil back before rolling and tucking the meat.

Trim the ends off if you want.

Line the bottom of the other tray with the bacon, slightly overlapping each slice.. Set the meatloaf on top and bring the bacon up to cover, so you end up with a bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Roll over so the ends of the bacon are on the bottom.

Cover bacon-wrapped meat roll with foil.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven.

Increase the temperature to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the foil from the meat, and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until the bacon is thoroughly cooked.

Cool briefly. Serve.

the food out here, meatloaf, birthday


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