Let me be clear from the start, this is not exactly my first-Atlanta-roommate Michelle’s meatloaf, because I’ve tweaked it quite a bit over the years, but it certainly emerges from her inspiration.
And she taught me two very important lessons about meatloaf:
Growing up, my mom always put the meat concoction in actual bread-loaf pan; however, all the excess grease would collect at the bottom [naaaaaaasty]. Speaking of grease, I actually think 85/15 or 80/20 beef creates a more moist meatloaf. For this particular meal, I had to use 90/10, because that’s all I had. [My family goes together to buy a locally raised grass-fed cow, and we ask that all the ground beef be processed leanly. Usually this is ideal, with the exception of meatloaf.]
Anyway, the next lesson is infinitely important:
It’s become a cliche, but bacon does, indeed, make everything better. Michelle would put the bacon on the bottom of the loaf, but I like it a little crispier, so I put it on top.
Aaaand, I know this is obnoxious, but I also like to make my own ketchup. It is easy and fantastic. Not at all necessary for this recipe, but highly encouraged.
1 ½ lbs ground beef
1/3 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons ketchup (recipe below, or use any ‘ol kind)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
1/4 cup finely diced onion
3 pieces of bread torn apart*
5 to 6 pieces of bacon (raw)
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix everything together, except the bacon and 2 T of ketchup.
3. Mold into a loaf in a roasting pan.
4. Spread the 2 T of ketchup on top, and wrap with bacon.
5. Bake covered for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
Adapted from this recipe at Heavenly Homemakers.
12 ounces tomato paste
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon*
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
scant 1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch of cayenne
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1. Mix everything together well.
2. Store in an airtight container (like a jar) in a refrigerator. It should last up to 2 weeks, but you can always freeze extra.
Note: this makes very thick ketchup, so if you want it a little thinner (especially if you use it in a squeeze bottle), just add water a Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.
*IMPORTANT UPDATE: After making this recipe soooo many times, there are a few things I have changed. The bread torn apart is great, but I have also just pulverized some almonds in my food processor (about 1/2 cup after processing) and added that. It makes the texture slightly different, but it is still excellent.
Regarding the ketchup- I think I have decided that this recipe has too many spices. Lately, I’ve been eliminating the cloves and just doing an 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon. It is still very flavorful.