Bacon-wrapped Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a brand new experience for me. It was never a dish that my parents made at home, and I ordered it only once before in a restaurant. There was just something unappealing about putting ground meat in a loaf pan and letting it cook in its own grease. The fact that I was used to normal cuts of meat also didn’t help this dish’s cause. Meat wasn’t supposed to come in cubes or odd shapes. And a ketchup “glaze”? Ketchup?! Ketchup was for burgers and almost nothing else. So the bit about ‘glazing’ the ‘loaf of meat’ with ketchup sounded odd and unappealing.

Alton Brown, again, showed me the error of my ways. (I really need to find another chef to watch on the Food Network!) I saw his episode about meatloaf and, for the first time ever, I actually wanted to eat meatloaf.

Bacon wrapped meatloaf.

Bacon wrapped meatloaf.

I was apprehensive at first, so I looked around the internet for a few more ideas. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman has been very dependable, so I opened his book in search for some meatloaf direction. I also turned to Cook’s Illustrated, knowing that they run so many tests that they bound to come across something useful.

So I set about to combine recipes for myself. Here is what I came up with: a bacon-wrapped, three-meat, free-form meatloaf.

Bacon-wrapped meatloaf.

Bacon-wrapped meatloaf.

I no longer fear the meatloaf. I have learned to love the ketchup glaze, and you should too. Click through for the recipe and more pics… and also to find out one huge change I’ll do next time I make it.

Meatloaf
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 small celery rib, minced
4 oz cremini mushrooms, minced
1 carrot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup whole milk or plain yogurt or cream
1 1/3 cups bread crumbs
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1 pound ground beef chuck
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
6 – 8 ounces bacon, thin sliced (8 to 12 slices, depending on loaf shape, enough to cover the loaf)

Glaze
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 F with oven rack in the middle position. Prepare a baking sheet (see image below recipe).
  2. Mix all the glaze ingredients (the ketchup, coriander, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and honey) in a saucepan; set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, mushrooms, and carrot, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown (7-8 minutes). Add the garlic near the end of cooking.
  4. While the above is cooking, mix egg with cayenne pepper, thyme, paprika, mustard, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and milk or yogurt.
  5. Add the egg and spice mixture to meat in large bowl along with bread crumbs, parsley, and cooked onion and garlic. Mix with forks until evenly blended. The mixture should not stick to the bowl–if it does, add more milk or yogurt, a couple tablespoons at a time until it doesn’t stick anymore.
  6. To mold the meatloaf, either free-form a 9-5 inch loaf or pack it into a 10-inch loaf pan (turn the pan upside down to dislodge the meatloaf). Do this directly onto your prepared baking sheet.
    Snugly wrapped in bacon.

    Snugly wrapped in bacon.

  7. Brush with the glaze. Arrange the bacon slices over the loaf. Overlap the slices slightly (they shrink with heat) and tuck the ends under as best as you can.
  8. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. After about 30 minutes, brush more glaze onto the loaf. Bake until the probe registers 160F, about 1 hour. Let rest at least 15 minutes.
  9. Simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until thickened slightly. Slice the meatloaf and serve with extra glaze.

Notes: Preparing the baking sheet.

The baking sheet is prepared this way for a number of reasons. First the entire baking sheet is covered with an extra large sheet of aluminum foil. This is for easier clean-up. You don’t need to clean the sheet-pan afterwards, simply ball up the dirty foil and throw away. Place a metal cooling rack into the baking sheet and lay a large piece of foil over this. Poke holes into the foil with a skewer or chopstick to allow the fat to drain through. The loaf is baked free-form to allow a crust to form on all sides of the loaf rather than just the top.

 

Prepared sheet pan for Bacon-wrapped Meatloaf

Prepared sheet pan for Bacon-wrapped Meatloaf

Full Disclosure:  About that “huge change” I mentioned; well, I messed up the recipe on the first go-around. I forgot a key ingredient when I was assembling it: the breadcrumbs. I know, I know. How could I forget the breadcrumbs you ask? I was in a hurry and got distracted. Wouldn’t that have changed everything? Probably, but cooking isn’t always perfect and this still turned out very tasty.  If you do make this recipe, be sure to add those breadcrumbs… I’ll let you know how it turns out when I make this again.

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