PROVO, Utah, September 20, 2013 — Meatloaf is an often mocked food. Love it or hate it, no one sits on the fence.
Most countries have their own versions that include anything from pickles to hardboiled eggs. In the United States, meatloaf is often served glazed with a ketchup-based sauce, but can also be found rolled up with a variety of fillings including chopped spinach, mashed potatoes, and ham.
Why is it that the best meatloaf always comes from home?
Cooking in small batches and serving it minutes after taking it from the oven are important factors. A seasoned Louisiana cook once told me, “you can never have too many peppers and onions in a meatloaf.”
I took that advice to heart as I created this recipe. People will try all sorts of different seasonings, but I have discovered that for soul food, you should keep it simple and use the freshest ingredients available.
This version is not your mama’s meatloaf. Bacon has also come out of the shadows. Though once hated by doctors and maligned for its high fat and cholesterol counts, it is now championed by feckless ne’er-do-wells who throw caution to the wind by adorning everything from donuts to chocolate chip cookies with crispy porkalicious bacon.
It was just a matter of time before meatloaf and bacon would combine, achieving what can only be described as meatloaf nirvana.
This recipe is an old Southern favorite chock full of garden-fresh peppers and onions, then capped with a layer of thick-cut hickory smoked bacon. As the bacon crisps to perfection, the drippings baste the meatloaf, keeping it juicy and flavor-filled. For the meatloaf purist, the ketchup sauce is served on the side.
Southern-style Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
1 generous cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup soft, fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon parsley
½ pound thick-cut hickory smoked bacon slices
1 ½ cups ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bell pepper, onion, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and parsley. Mix with your hands to combine, distributing ingredients evenly. Do not over mix or the meat will become gummy.
Lightly oil a 10 or 12 inch cast-iron skillet. Place the ground beef mixture into the skillet and pat into a smooth and rounded shape. Layer strips of bacon over meatloaf, slightly overlapping long edges and trimming the ends when needed. Cover the whole surface of the meatloaf with bacon.
Put the meatloaf into the oven and cook uncovered. Bake for 1 ½ hours or until the juices run clear and meat is no longer pink. A meat thermometer placed in the center will read 160°F when well done. When 30 minutes of cooking time remain, prepare the sauce. Whisk together sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low until sugar is dissolved and sauce is slightly reduced, stirring occasionally. Keep the sauce warm.
After removing from the oven, drain grease from skillet and let meatloaf rest for 10 minutes.
Serve sauce on the side.
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