I’ve thought Wolfgang Puck was a culinary genius ever since I caught one of his old shows airing as a “filler” on the early morning weekend programming block of The Food Network. I couldn’t understand a word the man was saying, but he seemed so into what he was doing, and his food looked so good, it was impossible to not want to jump in a kitchen after watching his contagious personality. After I tried his recipe for garlic bread, the most amazing garlic bread the world has ever seen by the way, this man became one of my cooking idols. Even Gordon Ramsay, my other huge favorite, worships the ground the man cooks on.
That status as culinary god was further cemented by eating at Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney… Amazing food, humungous portions, and only a counter-serve credit? A genius and a philanthropist to the cause of enjoying the best of Disney at a bargain. My first trip to Disney in September of 2011, I ate there 4 times in 7 days. In January, 3 times in 4 days. This last trip, 3 times in 7 days. When I get home, I always really regret not eating there more. As I said, kind of a big fan.
When I got the recipe for his famous bacon wrapped meatloaf, I freaked out. First I freaked out with excitement over actually having this recipe, the actual one from Wolfgang Puck Express. Pair it with the cream cheese mashed potatoes and this was going to be a win. Then I freaked out when I read the recipe… Not a single ounce of bread crumb, bread, or panko to be seen.
His secret ingredient? Mushrooms. MUSHROOMS. I hate mushrooms. Hate, hate, HATE mushrooms. Had Wolfgang Puck been feeding me mushrooms on the sly? And I never noticed? This, for me, was like seeing a piece of behind-the-scenes Disney magic that you never wanted to see. I was totally convinced that this dish, one of my favorites, was ruined forever and despite loving it while I ate it, I could never think of it the same way again if it really and honestly did include mushrooms.
Turns out, after multiple confirmations, that yes, Wolfgang Puck uses mushrooms, not breadcrumbs, in his meatloaf under the belief that it makes the loaf moister, have better texture overall, and adds to the meaty flavor (as mushrooms absorb the flavor of meat very well) in a way that bread just can’t.
I almost passed on this recipe… I just really hate mushrooms. I didn’t want to eat anything with mushrooms in it. I literally had to sell myself on the idea of making this the entire time I was grocery shopping. I had to convince myself it’d be worth it, that I wouldn’t notice, and that it’d taste amazing. When I chopped the mushrooms, I freely admit I went overboard, chopping them to almost a fine paste in the fear of tasting them when I ate a slice.
As usual, it turns out my insanity was wasted… When it was cooked, you couldn’t tell that there were mushrooms, which if I hadn’t melted down into full “mushrooms are nasty” mode, I’d have rationally realized as you can’t tell when you order it at Wolfgang Puck Express either.
And the meatloaf was delicious, perhaps maybe slightly under seasoned from what is served (but that may have been my fault… I forgot to add thyme and added less salt), but otherwise, an amazingly spot-on copy of what is offered at Wolfgang Puck express. Honestly, it was like a slice of Disney vacation.
Wrapping the bacon around the meatloaf was way easier then I thought to do, but very difficult to explain. Hopefully, by the pictures I took, people can see what I did. Basically I layered the bacon in a zipper-like fashion, with the end of the bacon slightly more then halfway across the bottom of the pan, then layering the next piece in the opposite direction. This worked amazingly well, and it looked way cool.
I tried to make sure that the fatty portions of the bacon weren’t all on top of each other, layering it so that fat was over bacon meat, not bacon fat over bacon fat (which hopefully makes sense), so as to keep the bacon from falling apart… And it should go without saying, this is a really, really fatty dish. I had to drain it partway through cooking so that the bottom of the meatloaf wasn’t stewing in fat. I’ll also say that the waterbath was the big secret to the moistness of this dish, along with the mushrooms. The extra little bit of hassle is totally worth it.
This was one of my favorite dishes to make and serve for this blog… Seriously, it was amazing. If I’d had beef broth on hand to make that amazing sauce they serve with it and some onion straws, I’d have been in heaven. But there’s always next time…
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Wolfgang Puck’s Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
As is served at Wolfgang Puck Express, Downtown Disney
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 1/2 pound mushrooms, trimmed and finely chopped
- 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced fine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, minced
- 1 1/1 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground veal
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 pound bacon
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onion until translucent. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until they begin to color, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, spices, salt, and pepper,and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine beef, pork, and veal, add egg. Stir until ingredients are completely combined (using hands is sometimes easiest). Set aside.
In a 9x5x3-inch pan, line the bottom and sides of the pan with bacon slices, making sure the edges overlap slightly and hang over the edges. Add meat mixture, patting smooth and evenly. Fold the ends of the bacon up and over the meat mixture, enclosing it completely. Cover with foil and place in a roasting pan.
Prepare a water bath by putting roasting pan in the warmed oven and adding boiling water until the water comes halfway up the side of the loaf pan. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil. Slide shelf into the oven and bake 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue to bake until meat hits 160 on a meat thermometer, an additional 30 or so minutes. Drain if needed.
When done, remove meatloaf and allow it to rest in the pan for 10 minutes. Cut the loaf crosswise into 8 slices. Serve drizzled with gravy made from pan juices, if desired.