Meatloaf is a classic Midwestern dish for fall and winter gatherings. Meaty, ketchup-y, and warm, it fills the stomach and the soul.
The standard version can be a little boring, though. Why not jazz it up a bit? The recipe below not only uses pork in addition to beef, but also throws in bacon, which automatically takes it up a notch. And rather than baking it in the oven, you grill this bad boy on a wood plank. Not only do you get the classic meaty taste, but you get smoky and woody flavors too. There are a couple additional tweaks that help it rise above a standard loaf, like using BBQ sauce, and also adding in thyme. Believe me (and my delighted family), this meatloaf is killer.
The recipe is admittedly a bit involved, taking 30-45 minutes of prep time, in addition to about an hour of grilling. So it’s best to do this on a day off or for a weekend get-together with friends and family. An extra set of hands comes in handy too (at which point I need to thank my wife Jane for helping me out with both pictures, and preparation!).
Time: Prep: 30-45 min, Cook: ~60 min, Total: 1.5-2 hrs
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground sirloin
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 cup finely chopped carrot (ditto on the food processor)
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 package bacon (~12 strips)
- 1 cup BBQ sauce of choice
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cedar grilling plank
Directions for Making Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf
1. Combine eggs, milk, Worcestershire.
2. Stir bread crumbs into mixture.
After stirring in bread crumbs, set the bowl aside for a few minutes.
3. Saute onion.
Using a food processor if you have one, or a good knife, finely chop the onion and carrot (separately). Set the carrot aside for now (you could wait to chop it up until the carrot is needed, I just like to get all chopping done at once).
Heat up a little bit of olive oil in a skillet, and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until it’s fragrant and starting to brown and become transparent. Remove from heat.
4. Combine all the ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix together the beef, pork, carrot, thyme, salt, sautéed onions, and bread crumb mixture. Mix it all together really well. With meatloaf, the easiest way to do it is with your hands. Give them a good scrub before digging in, and then just go for it. Feels cold and gross, but it delivers the best results. Cover, and place the bowl in the fridge while you’re preparing the plank and grill.
5. Prepare grill and cedar plank.
Usually, when you cook with a wood plank, you soak it in water for 1-2 hours before use. Not in this recipe. Rather, pre-heat the grill to medium-high for indirect cooking. On my 3-burner Weber, this meant lighting up the middle and left burners, and leaving the right one off.
Place the plank over direct heat for 4-5 minutes, turning every minute or so, until the wood is lightly toasted. Remove from the grill, and let it cool for a couple minutes.
6. Prepare bacon wrap.
After the wood has cooled, place it on a cutting board. Lay your bacon slices right up against each other and across the board as shown above.
7. Place and shape the loaf.
Take the meat mixture out of the fridge, and grabbing handfuls at a time, place it onto the bacon. As you’re doing so, roughly shape it into a loaf. It should taper at the ends, and not overlap the bacon at all.
8. Wrap the loaf, and secure the bacon.
With the loaf placed and shaped, bring the ends of each bacon strip together, overlapping so that you can secure each strip with a toothpick.
9. Grill, and brush with sauce.
Place the meatloaf over indirect heat on the grill.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce — a 1:1 mixture of BBQ and ketchup.
Combine the sauces and stir well.
Put the mixture into a small saucepan and heat it until it starts to bubble. Reserve half in a separate dish for serving alongside the finished product; you’ll use the other half for brushing the meatloaf every 15 minutes.
Grill the loaf until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Every grill is different, but for me, this took an hour. For the last 15 or 20 minutes, I covered it with tin foil since the bacon was starting to get a little too crispy, and it was cooking a little slow. The foil created a little oven within the grill, and really got it cooking. Keep an eye on your particular loaf though, taking its temperature a few times, and adjusting as necessary.
10. Cut, serve, and enjoy!
When you’ve reached 160 degrees, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Cutting will be easier if you just cut each piece to the width of a slice of bacon. Heat up the reserved sauce again, if necessary, and serve alongside the loaf.
Dish it up, and impress your guests!