Ready, Set, Cook! Special Edition Contest Entry: I call this a "Meal Loaf" because the whole meal is in one loaf, potatoes, veggies and meat! From the crispy crust of the potatoes on the outside, to the moist delicious meat loaf, to the creamy tangy spinach center, this is a meal even your veggie hating kids will love and ask for again! This can be made ahead up until almost the last step and then popped in the oven for dinner.There is a bit of prep involved but a lot of it is done simultaneously.
- 4 slices bacon
- 1 large softball size onion (Divided)
- 1 large carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 large red bell pepper (divided)
- 10 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
- 1 1⁄2-2 cups milk (divided)
- 1 -2 egg (depending on preparation see note below)
- 1 (20 ounce) package Simply Potatoes® Shredded Hash Browns (divided)
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 (10 ounce) packagechopped spinach, thawed drained and squeezed
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- Chop bacon and cook on med low heat until all fat is rendered and bacon is browned and crispy. remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towel.remove pan from heat and set aside. ( you will use this later for gravy).
- While bacon is cooking, dice carrot, celery, pepper, onion, and 6 of the sun dried tomatoes. Putting aside 1/4 cup of pepper and 1/4 cup of onion, keep separated. Sweat vegetables, except the pepper and onion (put them aside) in canola oil on med low heat, add about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 3 sprigs thyme. When vegetables are softened and onion transparent remove from heat and place in a pie plate and spread out. Do not brown the veggies, you just want them softened. Remove sticks from the sprigs of thyme. (most of the thyme will have fallen off the stems and will stay in the veggie mixture).
- While veggie are softening, finely chop up the garlic. After removing the veggies from the pan put about another teaspoon of canola oil in pan and on VERY LOW heat cook garlic for about 1 minute and then remove pan from heat and put half the garlic with the veggies and mix in, and the other half with the reserved red pepper. DO NOT LET THE GARLIC BROWN. Place the pie plate with the cooked veggies and garlic in the fridge to cool.
- Rip up the Rye bread into small pieces and place in a bowl, cover with milk so they are all submerged in the milk and let soak for a few minutes.
- In a large bowl place the pork, chicken, reserved bacon, 1 cup of the Simply Potatoes Hash Browns (packed) and a beaten egg. Strip the leaves off of 3 sprigs of thyme and chop a little, place in the bowl with the meat, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. When the veggies that are now in the refrigerator are no longer hot put them in the bowl with the meat. Squeeze the milk from the rye bread and add that to the meat bowl also, reserving the milk. Mix ingredients in bow. I like to use the large "carving" fork that came with my knife set to mix it well without squishing it too much.
- Finely chop 2 more of the sun dried tomatoes and add that to the garlic and peppers that have been put aside. Mix the 4 oz goat cheese and the 4 oz cream cheese with the reserved milk from the bread and add to pepper garlic and sun dried tomatoes. strip the leaves off 2 sprigs thyme and add. Place the spinach in a tea towel and squeeze all the water out and place in the bowl with spinach and cheese and veggies.add a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper, and mix well.
- Place the meat mixture on a foil lined cookie sheet and gently roll it into a half in thick rectangle. Cut the rectangle into 4 even rectangles. Divide the spinach cheese mixture into 4 even sections and with your hands form them into logs and pace 1 in the center of each meat rectangle long ways, leaving an inch on each end. Gently roll the meat around the cheese mixture, you can lift the foil and use that to help, and seal on ends and where the meat meets.
- Take another cookie sheet and line with foil, and spray with a little non stick vegetable oil spray.
- Place the remaining potatoes in a pie plate and roll the meat logs in the potatoes covering well and place them on the foil lines cookie sheet. If there are any potatoes still in the dish when all the logs have rolled, place them on the logs and gently press them into the logs so they are all well coated.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 375 for about 40 minutes. Use a thermometer to check and make sure the center of the spinach is 180, because there is chicken in the recipe.
- After loaves have cooked for 25 minutes you can start the gravy, remember the pan with the bacon fat in it? drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat and heat it up on med heat. Dice up 2 more sun dried tomatoes and add to pan with onion and 3 sprigs thyme. When onion starts to brown add 2 Tbsp flour and whisk. Cook for about a minute or two, then add 1 cup of milk, and whisk inches When that is thick and bubbling add 1 cup chicken broth add a little salt and pepper to taste.When it has bubbled for about a minute turn heat to med low and keep at low simmer until meat is done. If it starts to get a little thick add a little more chicken broth.
- When the meat is done remove from oven and let stand and rest for about 10 minutes. Then place on plate and put gravy on. I like to put most of the gravy around it to keep the potatoes nice and crunchy.
- NOTE: If you want to prep this a head of time like in the morning and then just bake up later, Make up until you roll it up. Do not put the potatoes on early or they won't crisp up. Just cover the logs in the fridge and then take them out about a half hour before you want to start cooking them and then when you are ready to cook, brush them with an egg wash ( a beaten egg with a little water added) and then roll them in the potatoes. Bake them off as stated before making sure to get the 180 degree temp in the center. also make the gravy during the earlier prep and then reheat it when the loaves come out of the oven, gently on med heat. if it is too thick just add a little chicken broth until it is the consistency you like.
- These are very filling, an adult can eat a whole one but children might only want a half.