Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mini Tex-Mex Meatloaf with Vegetables and BACON (Freezable) - 52 Church PotLuck Main Course

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Alright alright alright (say that with a Matthew Mcconaughey good old Texas Boy Accent).

These little gems have MORE THAN ENOUGH FLAVOR to satisfy any Tex Mex cowboy (or cowboy want to be).  Spicy tomato juice is added to hamburger and Chorizo sausage.  BBQ Sauce brushed, even Fritos Corn chips are in there.  But also more than 2 cups of vegetables are mixed in and well hidden.  And of course everything is better with BACON BACON BACON!

The recipe I am giving fils a 9X13 Freezer to oven to table Casserole Pan PLUS a second smaller half size 8X8 pan.  I served the big one and froze the second to enjoy later (within 30 days).  Be sure to read over the recipe as this dish gets frozen before it is cooked which makes following the thawing directions very important.

As to the size of the meatloaves, the size shown are meant to be used when you are serving this as the only meat at a meal.  If you are doing these for a PotLuck meal, I make them half this size or even 1/3rd this size with a single piece of bacon on them.  So instead of serving 6 you can get as many as 18 little slices.  Much better when several options are on the table.

So... if you want to double up and freeze a casserole for later (or divide in half for a smaller meal now and one for later), this freezes perfect. Here's a few tips

First, be sure the actual baking dish is freezer to oven safe. Those ubiquitous Pyrex brand clear dishes work best. You can also use a Foil disposable pan to freeze and bake, then transfer into a presentation dish to serve.

Second, always best to thaw the casserole in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before baking. You can bake a frozen casserole right from the freezer. But the edges will be baked more crispy than the center by the time it is finished. To go straight from freezer to oven to table, just increase the baking time by 30 minutes. But again, you will have better results if you plan ahead and thaw the meal as much as possible. Leaving the casserole out on the counter for 2 hours (covered with the foil) also helps. The casserole will not be thawed completely but will cook more evenly. If you do this, only cook for another 20 minutes. As usual, but even more so, keep an eye on the dish as it cooks. Once the liquid is bubbling and the top is crispy crunchy, the dish is done no matter how much time you cook.

Third, 60 days... Two Months. NO MORE... Prepare and freeze, but date the dish. Cook and serve within 60 days for best results. Any longer and you will have freezer burn and the dish will start to turn on you. Personally, I am a 30 day guy,but I have baked these right at 60 days and it was fine.

OK.. Read over the recipe. The freezing tips are in italics. Enjoy and let me know what you think of this rather unique take on a meatloaf!!

OK... Here's what I did...

Mini Tex-Mex Meatloaf with Vegetables and BACON (Freezable)

  • 3 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • 2 Medium Carrots, Diced
  • 3 Stalks Celery, Diced
  • 2 Medium Green bell Peppers, Core and Ribs removed, Diced
  • 1 Pound Chorizo Sausage
  • 2 Pounds Hamburger
  • 1 Small Can (5.5 Ounces) V-8 Spicy Hot Style Vegetable Juice
  • 3 Large Eggs, Whipped
  • 1 Cup Crushed Fritos Corn Chips
  • 1 TBS Italian Seasonings
  • 1 tsp Each Salt and Pepper
  • 6 Oz Cheddar Cheese, Freshly Grated
  • 1 Pound Thick Slice Bacon, cut in half
  • 1 Cup Your Favorite BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 inch thick slices of Potatoes
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a heavy bottomed Saute pan heat Olive Oil over medium heat. Add the vegetables (Onions, Carrots, Celery and Bell Peppers). Saute for about 5 minutes until onions have softened and just turned translucent. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if you want to try this by hand), add hamburger and chorizo and mix (with bread hook if using a mixer). Add everything except the last three ingredients (no potatoes, no BBQ sauce nor the bacon yet)... Also add the softened cooked vegetables and mix away.
  4. While that is mixing, prepare a 9X13 Casserole dish. this recipe actually makes 1 and 1/2 casseroles. SO I also prepared an 8X8 Oven safe casserole dish. Spray with non stick spray. Also add a layer of sliced potatoes on the bottom. This way the meatloaves sit above the eventual rendered fat that drips out while they are cooking.
  5. OK, once the meat and fixins have been mixed together, pull out 1/3rd of the mix. Form into a loaf about 4 inches wide, two inches tall. Make an X with two of the half slices of bacon every 2 inches down the loaf and cut these to separate.
  6. Place each mini meatloaf on top of the potato slices. Repeat with another 1/3rd of the meat mix. Then repeat with the smaller casserole dish. Brush each meatloaf with the BBQ Sauce.
  7. At this stage, I froze the smaller casserole dish. ... cover the freezer casserole with Aluminum Foil, pushing the foil down so there is as little air between top of casserole and the foil as possible (prevents freezer burn). Pop in the freezer. When you want to cook this, just transfer to the refrigerator 24-48 hours before you plan to thaw and cook as directed below. If you do not have the time to thaw in the refrigerator, thaw in the microwave slowly. This dish needs to be completely thawed before cooking.
  8. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven, plate and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
  9. Serve Warm and ENJOY!


This recipe has been added to my growing list of "52 Church PotLuck Dishes"!

A list of something NEW worthy of being shown off at a neighborhood BYODish (Bring Your Own Dish) Party, a Family special occasion dinner, Any Big Holiday Gathering or of course that glorious day when you bring a dish to share with your Church family...

Ages ago, literally almost a half century ago I was listening to our pastor talking about a PotLuck Dinner. It happened to be scheduled around a church work day when we were expected to weed, polish and do general cleaning and maintenance around the church (you know, back in the day when there were no no-wax floors and church pews smelled of Old English furniture polish). I am of course paraphrasing, but as I recall the pastor said,

"A potluck, like a church requires work. At a potluck everyone is expected to contribute.. At a church no one should come empty handed and no one should leave unfed".
I will confess that in my youth I brought more store bought plastic spoons and forks than I ever brought covered dishes and crock pots of fresh made love and caring delights. But now that I have become a hobbyist cook, I occasionally am reminded of those days and people from my youth. I reminded and I do wish that I could drop a dish of some new creation on those old tables at my fondly remembered Liberty Baptist Church.  Tables covered with newspapers and loaded with God's bounty prepared with love and caring... Enjoy


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