A few weeks ago, I read about The Original Bacon Explosion. Now, the impediments to me wanting to make one of these myself are threefold:
- It’s the dead of winter, and not good barbecue weather
- I don’t own a smoker
- Despite enjoying the magical texture of meats cooked low and slow, I do not especially like the sweet and smoky flavors of barbecue
But as I may or may not have mentioned, I’ve been on a quest to find a low-carb alternative that met my occasional desire for lasagna. And so, I decided to come up with a new application of this bacon-weaving and meat-rolling technology. I decided to create the world’s first rolled meatloaf-lasagna hybrid. And I call it Loafsagna (Okay. Actually I just call it “Lasagna Meat Roll”, but I thought I’d try to make it sound all dramatic.)
- 2 lb bacon
- 1 lb Lean Ground Beef
- 2 cups bread crumbs (For a healthier choice, we used Original Flavor Fiber One cereal, pulverized in a food processor)
- 12 oz spaghetti sauce
- 1 Onion, minced
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 3 cups Ricotta Cheese
- 2 cups Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 lb bulk pork sausage
- 1/4 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 cup milk or cream
- 1 cup Cremini (“Baby Portabello”) mushrooms, sliced
Weave about a pound of uncooked bacon into a sheet. Depending on how your bacon is cut, this should be something on the order of 6-8 slices by 5-6 slices, making a bacon checkerboard pattern. A tight weave is best, but having done this, I can assure you that’s not going to happen. If your bacon is cut like mine was, this will use up one pound of bacon plus two slices from the second pound. Fry the remaining bacon and set aside. Based on the cut of your bacon, it is probably safe for you to eat approximately 3 slices of the bacon while you are working, provided you wash your damned hands every time you touch raw meat.
Mix the beef, half the onion, 2 tbsp of the spaghetti sauce, the garlic powder, and 2 eggs, kneading thoroughly. Press the beef into a thin patty over top of the bacon. You should end up with a contiguous layer of beef that almost-but-not-quite covers the bacon. Keep it thin, but you need something with structural integrity.
Mix the 2 cups of the ricotta, mozzarella, 3/4 cup Parmesan, garlic, basil and oregano. Take 1/2 cup of the mixture and add milk or cream until it forms a thin, spreadable paste. Spread this thin onto the beef layer. Lay four strips of cooked bacon across this, oriented along the longer dimension. Set the rest of the cheese mixture aside for now.
Mix the sausage with the remaining bread crumbs and form a second patty atop the last layer. The sausage will have somewhat less mass than the beef, so keep that in mind when forming this layer. This one can be a bit smaller than the one below it and should be thin. Spread the remaining spaghetti sauce over the sausage, like saucing a pizza. Break up the remaining bacon and sprinkle the pieces over the top.
Add 1 egg, the remaining onions, and the mushrooms to the remaining cheese mixture. Spoon that onto the top layer toward the middle along the long dimension. Think “burrito filling”.
Now comes the part that is going to blow your mind. VERY carefully, roll the whole thing up as if that beef and pork and bacon was all just a tortilla. If you can pull it off, leave the woven bacon behind as you roll the meat layers, then go back and roll the bacon weave in the opposite direction so that the seams aren’t in the same place. But if your layer thicknesses came out like mine did, you’re going to have a hard enough time just keeping the insides from falling out.
Roll this monstrosity into a large oven-safe pan. I was going to use the broiler pan, but that proved far too small, and I ended up using the lasagna pan instead.
Finally, take what’s left of the ricotta, Parmesan and egg and mix them together. Add cream and milk until you have something of a sort of spackle consistency — thicker than what we did for the inter-meat layer. Press this over the outside of the bacon log. Now, this step I’m not quite committed to. I think it was good in general, but it stopped the outer bacon layer from getting crispy. If it’s not too much work, I’d try putting the log in the broiler for a while first, maybe turning it over after a few minutes. That would let the outer bacon crisp up before we sealed in all the meaty goodness with a layer of cheese.
Bake at 350°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. This took me somewhere between 2 and 3 hours. You may or may not want to baste the log as fat liquefies and drains out. Leah thought the meat was too dry, but on the other hand, I thought the the outer cheese coat browned up and gave it a nice texture. In any case, it’s best to find some way to avoid letting it sit in a bath of its own fat for the entire cooking time. I doubt it would have held up if I’d put a rack underneath it, but maybe I could have devised something.
Extrapolating from our current usage rates, this should make somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-12 servings. Do not attempt to eat the whole thing in one sitting. Or you will die. Oh, this thing is like 4 pounds of meat and another two pounds of cheese, so for the love of God have some green vegetables with it.