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The whole of last week, flu was in the air. All of us felt like wet socks… limp and floppy. When the weekend came, we decided to hibernate. Just staying at home, watching television and catching up on sleep never felt so wonderful. But as usual, for me, not a weekend goes by without me doing research and experimenting in the lab.

The whole week, I was thinking of meatloaf… and I decided to tweak the usual meatloaf “presentation”. Instead of baking it in a loaf tin, I baked it in a hollowed-out French loaf. And I added a layer of sautéed mushrooms and swiss-cheese in the middle. My version of the mushroom-swiss-burger. Yeah. I had it going on my head already.

I winged the meatloaf recipe (the quantities below are, at best, estimations), because I couldn’t be bothered to go through my stack of recipes to look for my go-to meatloaf recipe. If, after reading this post, you want to attempt it with your own meatloaf recipe, go ahead, I won’t hold it against you.

I’ve split the ingredients and methodology into steps, so bear with me…

LOAF-IN-A-LOAF (my way)

1 medium-sized French loaf

a pack of turkey bacon

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1 pack portobello mushrooms, gilled, diced

(can be substituted with tinned button mushrooms, diced)

italian herbs

dried parsley flakes

salt and pepper to taste

sliced swiss cheese

(if you can’t get hold of it, replace with shredded cheddar or mozzarella)

1 kg minced beef


1 handful grated parmesan cheese

italian herbs

dried parsley flakes


1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

pizza topper herbs


Set oven to 180C.

Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.



Slice the French loaf length-wise, about two inches from each end, but DO NOT cut through to split the loaf completely.

Using a spoon or your fingers, gently scoop out the bread, taking care not to puncture the shell of the French loaf.

Set aside the French loaf, while we work on the bread filling first.


Roughly cube the bread filling, place them on the prepared baking sheet, tossing them generously with olive oil.

Toast in the oven for a few minutes until crispy, but NOT browned.

Set aside to cool slightly.

Do not throw the aluminium foil yet, we’ll be using them again.


Heat your skillet with a little olive oil, fry the bacon slices until cooked, but not to a crisp.

Drain completely on kitchen paper, set aside.


In the same skillet, with the remaining oil, brown the diced yellow onions and add in the diced bell peppers.

When the peppers have softened slightly, add in the diced mushrooms.

Sautee them lightly, season with salt and pepper according to taste, and add a few pinches of Italian herbs and dried parsley flakes.

Set aside to cool slightly.


Now back to self-made croutons… place them in a ziplock bag and smash-smash-smash!

You can use a food processor, but why clutter the workspace?

They will be incorporated into the meat filling, so you don’t want any big pieces.

So bash them up real good until they are as fine as the panko.


Measure the bashed croutons in a measuring cup (duh!), and add the extra panko to make 1 cup.

Add in the parmesan cheese, italian herbs, dried parsley flakes, pepper and a pinch of paprika.

Stir to mix thoroughly.


In a small bowl, stir together milk, eggs and salt.


In a big bowl, dump in the minced beef.

Also toss in all of the seasoned panko and milk-egg mix.

Mix together until just combined, do not over-mix.

Over-mixing will cause the meat to turn tough.

(Something about the protein links in the meat… yada-yada-yada…)


Now it’s time to assemble the loaf-in-a-loaf…

with the aluminium foil still on the baking sheet, place the hollowed-out French loaf in the centre.

Carefully line the inside bottom with the cooked bacon

(that’s why you’ve got to drain it real good, or else the loaf’s base will be soggy).

Then carefully scoop the meat mixture over it, until just halfway up in the shell, then pressing it down slightly.

Then layer the sautéed mushroom, pressing slightly.

Arrange the slices of swiss cheese/sprinkle on the shredded cheddar or mozza, pressing slightly.

Again, arrange the bacon slices on top of the cheese.

Then fill to the top with the remaining meat mixture, pressing slightly.

** the reason I keep on re-iterating to press down the filling at every stage ,

is to slightly compact it, such that when you slice the loaf, it doesn’t crumble and fall apart. **

***if there is leftover meat and mushroom filling that can’t fit into the loaf, no worries,

(arrange them in the same way as you did in the loaf) in a greased muffin pan and bake ‘em up the same way.***

STEP 10.

Wrap up the sides of the loafed-up loaf (is there such an expression?) with the aluminium foil

– to help keep its’ shape and that it doesn’t split open in the oven –

and chuck it in the oven for about 40-50 minutes.

STEP 11.

Remove it from the oven and test for done-ness with a skewer to see whether the meat juices run clear

(that’s when you know the meat has cooked thoroughly).

If it isn’t clear, return it to the oven for a few more minutes.


STEP 12.

After testing that the juices have run clear, arrange more cheese on top.

Go to town with the cheese. Don’t skimp.

Cheese is good for you.

Then on top of it, sprinkle some pizza topper herbs and return it to the oven.

STEP 13.

Leave it in there for a few minutes until the cheese starts to melt and bubble.

Watch it like a hawk, you don’t want the pièce de résistance to burn.

STEP 14.

This time, remove it from the oven for good.

Let it cool for about 10 minutes while still wrapped in the aluminium foil.

Then unwrap it and slice up the baby.

Ooouuuuuhhhhh………. Awesome…..

The loaf-in-a-loaf slices go well with parmesan-mashed-cauliflower (in place of mashed ‘taters) or broccoli-mayo-cheddar salad, along with some onion or mushroom gravy. But I just grab my trusty sriracha. Love that cock… sauce to death!

I am still finding the scrap of paper that I jotted the salad recipe on. Yes, I owe the recipe to another friend… she mentioned once that her daughter loves broccoli. I haven’t forgotten, M!



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