With cold winter months around the corner, I’m starting to crave comforts foods like Colorado green chili, tortilla soup, and meatloaf. However, it’s still in the 90’s outside, so a warm bowl of soup still doesn’t suit the palate just yet, but that doesn’t exclude meatloaf! I know, meatloaf got a bad rap when someone decided to dirty it up with huge chunks of veggies and super market meat that was as far away from fresh as it gets. Kids across the country have grown up never knowing that meatloaf can actually be good.
You have to start with fresh ingredients, and then look for the taste you want in your meatloaf. My mom made hers taste like pizza, throwing in tomato sauce, cheese, fennel, Italian seasoning, and other yummy herbs that typically go into Italian dishes. I like her recipe, but I once came across a simple recipe that called for eggs, stuffing and barbeque sauce. That was it, and the recipe was really good, but I knew it could be better. By taking that same concept, but adding in additional flavors we liked – always add onion and garlic, always – I finally found a recipe that was (as my family says) heaven in your mouth! Like little drops of meatloaf heaven dancing on your taste buds, you’ll re-think your childhood hatred for that meat in a loaf.
I swear that the secret is the barbecue sauce and fresh/organic ground meat. We are a family of hunters, so we always have a lot of ground elk and venison on-hand, but you could just as easily get the ground meat from your local organic market. The recipe below makes a rather large loaf (2 pounds of meat), but when I’m feeding my family of 4, I want to make sure I plenty of leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches the next day. Even then, sometimes they just keep eating until it’s gone!
Mix for Meatloaf
- 2 pounds of ground elk (could use venison and beef too)
- 8 ounces of multi-grain crackers, finely crushed
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon of salt (if your steak seasoning has plenty of salt in it, then cut this out)
- 1 teaspoon steak or burger seasoning
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 eggs
- 6 slices of thinly sliced bacon
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Place all of the ingredients for the meatloaf (except for the egg) in a large bowl.
- Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then pour on top of the meatloaf mix.
- Spray a baking sheet with olive oil, or line it with parchment paper so you don’t have to clean the mess up afterwards. This step is important, because with the next step you’re getting dirty and you need to prep before that stage.
- Take your rings off and get to mixing all of the meatloaf mix together. Squish, squish.
- Pour all of the ingredients out on the baking sheet, and form into a loaf. I like to form it so the slices are the size of sandwich bread – always thinking ahead.
- Place the bacon over the top of the meatloaf. With this, I either cut the bacon in half so it fits right, or I’ll tuck long ends under the loaf. If you’re on an anti-bacon diet, then cut this out, but I’m telling you, you’ll be missing out on some great flavoring.
- Bake in oven for about 40 minutes. Or if you have a meat thermometer, cook until it reads an internal temperature of 160⁰F.
- 10 minutes before the meatloaf is done, mix together the remaining ingredients – barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce – and heat on oven until it starts bubbling. Turn it down to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- When the meatloaf is done, pour the sauce over the top, and let it rest for 5 minutes before digging in.