A report from the meatloaf front lines

Meatloaf was served in tiny tasting cups. If you eat 25 tiny bites, it's healthy, right?

I had more fun than I thought possible at this Saturday’s Loaf Off, a meatloaf competition that fundraiser for Make-A-Wish that made The Anchor smell sooooooo goooooood.

I had the pleasure of serving as a judge at the event, along with chef Tanya Tandoc and local Food God Joe Stumpe. We sampled and sampled and sampled meatloaf, and amazingly, they were all so different that we were actually able to decide which ones were best.

We gave the Top Loaf prize to Don Lucero, who was recently promoted to head chef at Via Christi Hospital on East Harry. He created his loaf in an angel food cake pan, stuffing it in the center with all sorts of cheesy goodness. You can find his recipe at the bottom of this post, and I suggest you make it a.s.a.p.

The crowd gathered to sample the loaves voted on People’s Choice and Best of Show. Eric and Diana Wittman won People’s Choice with a fabulous white-gravy topped loaf, and a team called The Smoked Loafers, lead by Philip Warren, won Best of Show. If my memory serves correct, their loaf was topped with latticed bacon, and it was purty.

Several other loaves were amazing, too, including a pheasant/duck/ostrich creation by Chef Paul Freimuth at the Hyatt and a very tasty Carrabba’s loaf entered by Joe Parten.

Please enjoy my photos from the event and keep reading to find Lucero’s winning recipe.

Don Lucero, the head chef at Via Christi Hospital on East Harry, was the big winner. Here he is with Lori Stone of Make-A-Wish getting his loaf award.

My co-judge Joe, preparing to dig in.

Tanya Tandoc announcing the winner.

Pretty sure this is the latticed beauty that won Best of Show.

The Hyatt's chef Paul Freimuth prepared a loaf made out of ostrich, duck and pheasant.

Could not resist a shot of this meatloaf fan sitting next to us.

ANGELIC DEMON’S CORDON BLEU MEATLOAF

(recipe tripled for event)

INGREDIENTS:

5 lb ground beef chuck

1 lb Italian sweet sausage, casings removed and crumbled

2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)

3 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs

4 slices pepper jack cheese

3 eggs

3-1/4 (1 ounce) packages onion soup mix

1 large yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, and chopped

1 large red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, and chopped

1 large white onion, chopped

1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with habanero peppers (Rotel)

4 slices bacon cheddar cheese

24 ounces prosciutto (You can substitute pancetta, capicola, or bacon)

GLAZE:

1 (18 ounce) bottle Honey Heinz 57 sauce

1/2 cup Ketchup

4 teaspoons Chipotle pepper sauce

1 teaspoon freshly ground Italian seasoning

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

DIRECTIONS:

Adjust oven rack to middle position; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slit the casings of the sweet Italian sausage from end to end with a knife, peel it off, and discard it. In a medium bowl, mix together the meat and all ingredients until well-combined.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Firmly pack the meat mixture into an angel food cake pan until half full.  Layer cut and sliced pepper jack cheese in the middle.  Finish filling pan with meat mixture leaving at least 1 inch gap from top.

Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf reads 150 degrees, 55 to 65 minutes. While meatloaf cooks, combine ingredients for glaze in small bowl.  Remove meat loaf from oven and turn on broiler. Split sliced bacon cheddar cheese in half and layer on top of loaf.  Layer prosciutto on top of cheese.  Then spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meat loaf with rubber spatula; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 5 minutes. Remove meat loaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; place back under broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. Let meat loaf cool about 20 minutes before slicing.  Internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees when done.  Garnish with two sweet red chilis to use as horns and a round slice of white onion to set on top of “horns.”