Those of you who have hung around for a while remember that a few years ago, I presented you with the golden rule of bacon, namely, “When in doubt, wrap it in bacon.” Well, that still obviously holds true, but now I have a slight amendment. If you don’t want to wrap it in bacon, chopping the bacon up and mixing it in is absolutely acceptable. And adding some smoky chipotles and fresh herbs certainly couldn’t hurt either.
Meatloaf, while usually not the most exciting choice for dinner, is a favorite around here. I love it fresh from the oven with mashed potatoes, or on a sandwich with white bread and ketchup (judge away!). The old-fashioned standby has served us well for years, and it’ll probably always be the default recipe I reach for in a pinch. However. This bacon chipotle meatloaf is something else entirely. It’s not only really, really good (meatloaf often is), but it’s also really interesting (meatloaf rarely is). Not only does it have bacon chopped up and mixed into ground beef to keep it most and intensely bacon-y (my favorite adjective), but it scores a triple-whammy of smokiness when you also mix in some smoked paprika and chipotle chiles. If the whole thing is starting to sound a little intense, fear not. Bright, fresh cilantro and parsley keep it tasting clean and- dare I say it?- light! I suspect that the panko breadcrumbs play a role in the lightness of the loaf, as well. Whatever it is, it works.
But one of the things that I truly appreciate about this meatloaf is that it’s almost impossible to dry it out. The fresh veggies and chopped bacon keep the moisture in the meat, so it stays moist and tender no matter how you abuse it. When I make this, I typically make two loaves, then put one in the freezer, after it’s been baked. Even after being cooked, cooling, freezing, then reheating, this meat loaf still does not dry out. It’s miraculous. Well, in so far as meatloaf can be miraculous, this one is.
One last thing- the list of ingredients may seem long for those of you who are used to a simpler meat loaf. It seemed long to me. But honestly, all you do is chop, mix, and shape into loaves, so some extra ingredients are really not such a big deal. And yes, there is a cup of heavy cream in this. Yes, this is a bit indulgent. Just go with it. I promise, it’s worth it.
Bacon Chipotle Meatloaf
adapted from Bon Appetit
1/4 pound bacon, finely chopped
1 3/4 pounds ground beef chuck
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1 1/4 teaspoons smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
4 small chipotle chiles from a can of chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, divided
Preheat oven to 400°. Grease a 9″ by 14″ baking dish with a bit of oil. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except for two of the chiles and the ketchup. Transfer meatloaf mixture to pan and form into two loaves. (You could also make one large loaf, but you get a better glaze-to-meat ratio with smaller loaves, and then you’ll be able to freeze one if you can only polish off one.)
In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and the other 2 chopped chiles. Spread 1/2 cup of this sauce over the loaves, making sure to get the sides, as well.
Bake for about 45-50 minutes. Serve with leftover chipotle ketchup.