When Jim Gallen, chef/owner of Tom’s Tavern, was recovering from chemotherapy and radiation treatments for tongue cancer, he would often find himself awake in the middle of the night due to side effects from the medication. During many of those sleepless nights, Jim and his dad (who moved in to help Jim get through treatment) watched the Food Network. As they watched in the wee hours one morning, Jim’s dad mentioned that he hadn’t had meatloaf in a while, so Jim got to work on a new recipe. He came up with veal meatloaf, now a bestseller at Tom’s Tavern.
“To me, the secret ingredient is the smoked paprika,” Jim says. "I just love this dish.”
In fact, Jim has so much admiration for the veal meatloaf that he often tells guests if they order the dish and don’t love it, he’ll pay for it. “I haven’t bought one yet,” he says.
Tom’s Tavern Veal Meatloaf
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ lb. white mushrooms, cut into ½ inch dice
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, minced
2 ½ lbs. ground veal, not too lean
1 cup oyster crackers, crumbled
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup drained prepared horseradish
½ lb. lean thick cut bacon, trimmed of fat and coarsely chopped
4 thick cut slices bacon, halved crosswise, to cover
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until they release their liquid, about 4 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high and cook, stirring until browned, about 4 minutes longer. Add the onion, bell pepper, and 1 tbsp. butter, cook over low heat stirring occasionally until the onion and bell pepper soften, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
Mince the chopped bacon in a food processor. In a large bowl, combine the minced bacon with the veal, cracker crumbs, ketchup, horseradish, egg and cooled mushroom mixture. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly with your hands. If you want to check the seasoning, sauté a small piece of the meatloaf mixture. Pack the meat into a 2-quart loaf pan and arrange the halved bacon strips on top.
Bake the meatloaf for 1¼ hours, or until and instant read thermometer inserted in the center registers 140 degrees.
Preheat the broiler. Broil the meat loaf 5 inches from the heat for 1 minute, or until the bacon is browned. Let the meat loaf rest in the pan for at least 10-30 minutes before serving.
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