Sure, sure, everyone got really excited over the past two weekends when the weather took a turn for the best and Nashvillians were able to entertain themselves with activities like biking, hiking, and drinking beer on sunny porches. But we butchers knew that this weather wasn’t necessarily sticking around for good—hey, the groundhog did see his shadow a while back, and most of us have this fancy thing called an iPhone that predicts the weather. So instead of sulking and whining about the return of the arctic chill, we decided to embrace the cold’s comeback with some cold-weather comfort food: Meatloaf. It warms you from the inside out, just like a glass of bourbon. Er…kind of.
To add some extra Porter Road flair to what would otherwise be a pretty traditional (albeit scrumptious) meatloaf, we used our devilishly delicious 50/50 (ground beef & bacon) in lieu of bacon strips and ground beef…and then in the end decided to fry up a few pieces of bacon to work into the loaf anyway. That way there will be little land mines of bacon that will annihilate your tastebuds with smokey, porky flavor. Like, why not? It’s bacon funfetti. Willow Farm eggs and Bobby John Henry breadcrumbs helped hold all that meaty PRB goodness together, and after just an hour in the oven it was time to feast.
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes
1 cup fine, fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 cup Hatcher’s whole milk
3 strips PRB bacon, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium celery rib, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Freshly ground salt and pepper
1/2 cup pitted prunes, chopped finely
1 3/4 lb. PRB 50/50 (ground beef & bacon)
1/2 lb. ground pork
2 large Willow Farm eggs
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350° F with a rack in the middle.
- Soak breadcrumbs in milk in a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, cook bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until golden and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside, leaving bacon dripping in the pan.
- Melt butter in pan with bacon drippings; cook onion, garlic, celery, and carrot, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low; cook until carrot is tender, about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire, cider vinegar, allspice, and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Add to breadcrumbs mixture.
- Add prunes, bacon, 50/50, ground pork, eggs, and parsley to breadcrumb mixture and mix together with hands. Mix until everything is combined and evenly dispersed.
- Pack mixture into two small loaves on a baking sheet lined with tin-foil.
- Bake for about 60-75 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf reads 155°F. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
While the jury’s still out as to whether or not a meatloaf “requires” a sauce to smother all over that beautifully browned meat-crust, the ever fancy Chris Carter was adamant: “No sauce? You can’t have meatloaf without a sauce.” This meatloaf is baconny. It is sweet. It is savory. It is texturally perfect. It has every necessary ingredient to make it an all-mighty meatloaf that can stand alone, without a sauce. BUT. If you, like Carter, feel that a sauce-less meatloaf would be sinful, then get saucy with it:
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
- Whisk ingredients together until well combined.
- 5-10 minutes before meatloaf is done, spread 2/3 of sauce onto the outside of your loaf or loaves. Return loaves to the oven until sauce is bubbling and the meatloaf is done (thermometer reads 155° F when inserted into the center of the loaf).
- Serve remaining sauce with sliced meatloaf.
Note: Cooked meatloaf keeps, chilled, about 3 days.