Let’s face it, when it comes to meatloaf this comfort classic gets a bad rap. Visions of Grandma’s over-baked, under-seasoned, cement brick evokes dinner depression, but it doesn’t have to be this way. What if meatloaf got its sexy back? It can with a little help from bacon. I didn’t eat meatloaf much growing up—my mom just never made it. This left me curious, so many years ago I began creating my own recipe. I have fine-tuned, varied, and come to love this simple dish over smashed red potatoes. With the cloudy June gloom, it feels like the perfect night to make some, so we’re going to give this seemingly unexciting dish a make-over. Oh, and the leftovers also get an upgrade, so you’ve got tomorrow covered too.
‘Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf’ Not. This. Time!
- 2 lbs - lean ground beef (grass fed angus beef, I use 15% fat)
- 6 strips maple bacon, uncooked
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ sweet white onion, chopped finely
- 3 T zucchini, finely grated
- ½ - ¾ cup dry bread crumbs, (I use Italian seasoned variety)
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 eggs
- 2 T parmesan cheese blend, shredded
- 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¾ tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
- 1.5 T fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ tsp fresh lemon zest
- * 2 oz, small cheddar cheese cubes (for center of baking meatloaf), optional
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 T dijon mustard
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp white wine
- 1 lb bag of mini red potatoes, scrubbed
- 3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 T Half-and-Half (I use fat free)
- 1-2 T fresh rosemary leaves, chopped, to taste
- Sea salt & black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 & spray a loaf pan with oil.
- Line oiled loaf pan with 3 bacon strips, lengthwise down pan & up side.
- In large mixing bowl, make meat mix by combining: ground beef, onion, garlic, zucchini, bread crumbs, parmesan, ketchup, Worcestershire, parsley, zest, eggs, salt & pepper.
- Mix until combined (avoid over-mixing, which toughens meat mixture).
- Press meat mix evenly into lined loaf pan & make several holes with end of spoon or chopstick.
- Whisk together sauce ingredients & spread ½ sauce mix evenly onto top surface of meatloaf.
- Place the remaining 3 strips of bacon on top of meatloaf, lengthwise.
- Bake meatloaf uncovered for ~40 mins, checking throughout to make sure bacon isn't burning on edges (if so tent with foil)..
- *If adding small cheese pieces, temporarily peel-back bacon slices and make small slivers evenly throughout loaf as it will not be totally firm yet (use a knife or chop stick) and press cheese pieces down halfway into meatloaf, pinching meat mix above to seal, covering top with a little more sauce (replacing bacon slices on top to again lay flat).
- Return pan to oven and bake ~25 more mins.
- In large pot with salted water boil small red potatoes on high, until tender with a fork (~20 min).
- Drain potatoes, return them to warm pot & smash with potato masher or wooden spoon, with skins.
- To still warm smashed potatoes add butter, half-and-half, salt, pepper, & rosemary, keep warm.
- Remove meatloaf after the 25 min (if top bacon is not crispy enough, can broil for a few mins) then let let pan cool on a rack for ~15 mins before slicing, If juices have collected in pan, simply pour off).
- Slice meatloaf & serve over bed of smashed potatoes, serving with some additional juices or prepared ketchup sauce as desired.
- *you can keep top bacon slices, or discard as desired.I remove bottom bacon slices as they will not be crisp or brown.
Juices will collect in th pan while this cooks, and you may see them around edges of the meatloaf itself, but you can drain some of them off (though they help the remaining meat stay moist), or simply slice leaving the juices behind in the loaf pan. I also spoon some sauce over meatloaf slices served on the potatoes—very good!
I remove the bottom slices of bacon before serving, but they are fine to keep, but will not brown or crisp significantly due to meat juices at bottom of pan (mainly used for flavor)!
Use leftovers to make warm, meatloaf panini sandwiches!
Sometimes I use ground turkey, and sometimes lean beef, depending which is on sale at the time. Sometimes I put cheese inside as the loaf bakes, but even without, this still turns out flavorful and moist—largely in part from our bacon wrapping. The bacon on the bottom of the pan won’t get crispy, so I remove it before serving, though you don’t have to. For me, it adds flavor and prevents the meat mix from sticking to the pan. The strips we add on the top will somewhat brown, so often I leave them on when serving.
I like to pair this with rosemary smashed red potatoes, but this meatloaf is good enough solo or with some vegetables.
So, what happens with the meaty leftovers? None other than day-after meatloaf paninis! They are ridiculously delicious and simple to make. I toast two thick pieces of fresh sourdough bread with parmesan cheese in a skillet. Then I heat-up a leftover meatloaf slice using butter to brown & crisp both in the pan. Then it’s just a matter of layering some of the leftover & warmed smashed potatoes, our browned slice of meatloaf, slice of Monterey jack (can substitute cheddar or mozzarella too), and a little sauce from the night before—there we have a serious sandwich folks, and it is glorious!
There are dozens of ways to cook plain ground beef, but you don’t have to resort to hamburgers and tacos all of the time. The flavors from bacon, cheese & garlic rock this loaf of goodness—I know you’ll enjoy it also.
If you’re still not convinced, here is a little inspiration from Chazz Reinhold, I just couldn’t help myself: Wedding Crashers-Meatloaf Scene.Pin It