Is there a more classic example of comfort food than meatloaf? Rich and hearty, it evokes memories of mom’s home cooking and a simpler time. However, homemade meatloaf is one of those foods that is often better in theory than in practice. More often than not it comes out dry, with a texture more like sawdust than moist meat, and a flavor that is completely bland.
But the moist, delicious meatloaf of your dreams is within your reach with one simple addition: bacon. It’s been said that bacon makes everything better, and this recipe certainly supports that theory. By swaddling your meatloaf in slices of bacon before baking, you not only seal in moisture, but give the dish a huge flavor infusion. This is not your mom’s meatloaf, but it might be even better.
What is meatloaf? Before we take liberties with a classic recipe, let’s discuss what makes up a classic meatloaf. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just loaf-shaped hamburger. It is composed of a careful melange of ingredients designed to give meatloaf its unique texture and flavor, including ground meat (typically beef mixed with pork or another meat) mixed with bread crumbs (as a filler) with eggs as a binder and various spices and flavorings. It is baked in a moderate oven until cooked through.
Meatloaf is said to have European origins; a reference to a loaf of minced meat is recorded in ancient Roman texts. The concept was brought to the United States by settlers, who valued the ability of breadcrumbs to “stretch” limited meat resources, and used spices and flavorings to make the dish more flavorful. While borne of scarcity, meatloaf has endured as a comforting, nostalgic comfort food.
Why add bacon to meat loaf? Meat loaf is slow-baked in the oven, which helps the flavors develop and cooks the meat through, but it can also yield a dry result. While many people think adding more eggs can help with this, it’s not the case. Like when making meatballs, the eggs are actually intended in a binder, and not an agent of moisture, and can make your meatloaf overly spongy.
But there is a cure for dried-out meatloaf: bacon. By wrapping the meatloaf in bacon before baking, it’s like you’re wrapping it in swaddling clothes that will seal in moisture while also imparting a crave-worthy salty-rich flavor.
What you’ll need to make beef and bacon meatloaf: To make a beef and bacon meatloaf, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the best ingredients.
Pantry items: Various pantry items including ketchup, vinegar, and spices are included in the mixture–be sure that you use fresh spices, and the best quality ingredients you can afford.
Eggs: Use fresh, large eggs for this recipe. If possible, use eggs from a trusted local source.
Yogurt: This recipe calls for yogurt. The acidity in yogurt can help soften the texture of the meat and keep it moist by acting as a mini-marinade. It also imparts a terrific flavor. For best results, use plain, full-fat yogurt.
Meat: This recipe has a beef base, but it also contains ground veal and pork. The different levels of moisture and fat in each meat contribute to a superior texture and flavor.
Bacon: Buy the best quality bacon you can for this recipe, as it is the star of the show. Thinly sliced bacon is your best bet here, as thick slabs of bacon can actually seal in too much moisture and can keep your meatloaf from cooking properly.
Beef and bacon meatloaf: recipe. This recipe comes together quickly, and yields a memorable, moist, flavorful meatloaf.
Adapted from the Food Network
For the finishing sauce
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
- 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- pinch salt
For the meatloaf
- 3 teaspoons mild olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/3 cup minced parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons spicy mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon sriracha sauce
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ pound ground veal
- ½ pound ground pork
- 1 1/3 cups breadcrumbs
- 10-12 slices thin-cut bacon
- Make the sauce. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, and stir or whisk until completely combined. Set to the side.
- Make the meatloaf. Start by positioning a rack in the middle position of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pour the 3 teaspoons of olive oil in a medium-sized, heavy bottomed skillet. Turn the heat on medium. Once it the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and onion. Saute until translucent and soft, about 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Turn off the heat. While the onions and garlic cool, proceed with the next step.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs with the thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sriracha, and yogurt.
- In a separate bowl, combine the different meats. Stir gently to combine.
- Add the egg mixture to the meat, along with the breadcrumbs and cooked onions and garlic. Mix with a wooden spoon or a fork until the mixture comes together. It may be slightly sticky, but the meat won’t stick to the sides of the bowl. If it does, add whole milk 1 teaspoon at a time until the mixture stops cooking.
- Form the mixture into a loaf shape, approximately 9 by 5 inches (about the size of the inside of a loaf pan).
- Place a sheet of tinfoil on top of a jelly roll pan or shallow roasting pan. Place the loaf on top of the foil.
- Using a pastry brush, coat the loaf with the sauce. Directly after coating the loaf, layer the bacon slices all over the top of the loaf. The easiest way to do this is by aligning them horizontally along the short side of the loaf, but you could get creative and “weave” the bacon too, as pictured below. Regardless of the alignment, be sure to tuck the ends under the loaf so that they don’t curl during the bacon. You may not use all of the bacon.
- Bake until the loaf reaches an interior temperature of 160 degrees F, about one hour. Cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.
Serving tips and storage. Once you’re ready to serve, slice along the slices of bacon to make the cleanest servings. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Conclusion: Bacon may not make everything in the world better, but it sure does a great job of improving this meatloaf recipe. Not only does it infuse your meatloaf with a rich, robust flavor, but it also seals in moisture so that your meatloaf is moist, not dried-out. It’s a clever and delicious way to update a classic dish so that the flavor is just as great as the classic food’s high nostalgia factor. Once you’ve tried this beef and bacon meatloaf recipe, you may never return to the (dry) old way!
Do you like meatloaf?