Enrollado de Carne Navideño
(Venezuelan Christmas Meatloaf)
This is a Venezuelan Christmas tradition. My wife first spoke of it a couple of years ago, but I did not quite understand it. Now I do, and it is close to an inversion of the pancetta wrapped meatloaf. Since it is inverted, basically you put the pancetta or bacon in the middle and you roll this up. The cheese, raisins, and green olives are a great touch. It might seem like a lot, but in the right quantity you will see these subtleties really make for a very tasty dinner.
This is not a difficult dish, in fact, my wife and I nailed it on the very first shot. It just takes some patience and organization. We took a shortcut and put the onion, garlic and pepper into a food processor and pulsed until it was very fine, almost slush. The next time around I would keep them more whole and dice as finely as I can by hand.=
After having accomplished this, I went online to search for other recipes. I’ve seen some that put the bacon on the outside like in this recipe for the Italian version of Pancetta Wrapped Meatloaf which makes it very crispy on the outside. However in this case I much prefer it on the inside.
Cooking times might not be exact, you really have to keep your eyes on it without opening the oven too often. Make sure the cheese does not come dripping out of it, or that the roll itself does not start to burst.
- 1lb Ground Beef (80-85% fat)
- 1 Egg
- 1 Small Onion
- 1/2 Small Green Bell Pepper
- 1 Clove fresh garlic
- 1/4 Teaspoon Oregano
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Raisins
- 6 Slices Pre-cooked Bacon
- 2 Tablespoons Mt. Asto Green Pimento Olives
- 6 Ounces Shredded Mozzarella
METHOD: Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, twice the size needed, add in ground beef, beaten egg, finely chopped onion and green bell pepper. Add in the salt, pepper, oregano and bread crumbs and combine all ingredients, mixing well by hand. You don’t want to crush or “mush” the meat, handle it gently so the meat does not become tough.
Lay out aluminum foil and lightly oil so the meat does not stick. Press it out evenly until it is about 1/4″ thick evenly. Place down your sliced mozzaella, the kind you get from the deli works well here, if not, slice it thinly, or shred it so it is even. Place down your strips of pre-cooked bacon, sliced olives and raisins.
Use the foil to roll the meat into a log shape. From here you want to gently remove it from the foil once rolled and transfer to baking parchment. You can find this in the same section where you get the foil and wax paper. Place the meat seam-side down and wrap it tightly with the parchment paper. The fat and juices from the meat are still going to leak once it heats up, but its really the best way to keep some of the moistness in rather than letting all the juices run out and making it dry.
Cook at 400F for 30 minutes. Carefully unwrap it from the parchment and leave it on the bottom and put back into the oven to cook for at least an additional 20-25 minutes. You will see the top get brown. For extra browning, remove the parchment paper all together and put under the broiler until the top has a dark brown texture and crust to your liking.
What you see here is the mozzarella cheese bubbling out from the top. I think it makes for a great presentation, but I did not plan it like that.
Once you remove it from the oven, allow it to rest for at least a good 10 minutes before slicing with a very sharp knife. I used a sharp serrated knife. If you don’t wait for the meat to rest and cool, all those juices and mozzarella are going to run out and it is going to be a mess and make for poor presentation.
The most important part of this is the assembly. You can make an error, and this would be the wrong method, but honestly I liked it because it turned out to look like a “split top” loaf. I liked seeing all the yummy goodness. It happens when you don’t leave enough room around the edges and the inside ingredients split the seam. Be sure that you clear the inside enough so there is no seam and don’t over stuff it which will give it an opportunity to split. Again, the results are not disastrous, in fact, I prefer it like this.
You can serve this with any side you like, but of course mashed potatoes work best.