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El Jefe's Festivus Meat Loaf

This is a meat loaf recipe I've made up over the years in an attempt to leave behind the "vegetable soup" meatloaves we had growing up. Needless to say, this meat loaf is the perfect main course for your annual Festivus celebration! - El Jefe

Looking for a perfect wine pairing for this?

1/2 pound or so button mushrooms
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
6 ounces (one half bag) Mrs. Cubbison's regular seasoned dressing (yes, really)
4 (or more) slices thick bacon, chopped up
2 eggs
3 pounds ground beef (I just use regular ground chuck)

Preheat over to 325F.

Get the butter melting in a skillet and saute the onions. Meanwhile, in a food processor pulse the mushroom until they are chopped pretty well and evenly. Add them to the onions when they are soft with maybe a little brown around the edges. Cook the mushroom and onion mixture until it starts to brown a little, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Dump all this into a big bowl to cool down, spread it out a little.

Back to the food processor - you don't need to wash it - add the dressing, bacon, and all of the seasonings and pulse until you get fine crumbs and the bacon is dispersed. It should be almost like a graham cracker crust (actually I bet this would make a *%#&@! of a crust!)

Once the mushroom and onions are down mostly to room temperature, add the bread and bacon mixture and the two eggs. Mix it all up.

Add the beef to the rest. I like to put on a food glove and get in there with my hands to mix it all up. I like a more "rustic" texture so I try not to over mix it.

You can bake this in a loaf pan, but I prefer to mold it into a loaf shape on a cookie sheet and bake free standing. This lets some of the grease run off, and forms a really nice crust. Bake at 325 degrees until the temperature at the center of the loaf reads 155 degrees (about 45 minutes or so).


Most of these quantities are not critical. I usually end up with more mushrooms than half a pound, for example. However, the first time you make this you can grab a small piece of the final mix and cook it as a little patty to check the seasoning.

Don't skimp on the bacon. We cure and smoke our own bacon at home so I use some of the thrimmings, they have a great smokey flavor. But any good thick bacon will do.

Yes, that's good old Mrs Cubbison's dressing - the regular stuff, not the stovetop or cornbread. If you do substitute with dry breadcrumbs make sure you adjust the salt accordingly.

This recipe started as an old Alton Brown ("Good Eats") recipe, he used garlic croutons! I never had those handy but we always seem to have some leftover stuffing mix, so I adapted. And changed a bunch of other things too!