There are a million different recipes for meatloaf out there and I feel like I have tried way too many of them. The recipe below is what I would consider to be my favorite and it is largely based on the America’s Test Kitchen recipe. I have increased the amounts of a few items and changed out a couple of ingredients but it is 95% their recipe.
Many people do their meatloaf in a standard loaf pan but I have never been a fan of that method. The bottom of the meatloaf just ends up steaming in grease while cooking and the texture is never right. A standard baking sheet has always been my preferred pan of choice but this time I used a foil lined broiler pan. If you have one, I would recommend using it if only for the ease of clean up.
Note that a key in this recipe is to mix all of the ingredients together without the breadcrumbs. Adding the breadcrumbs at the end ensures they do not get too broken down during the mixing process.
You can use all beef or even turkey for this recipe if you like but the mixture of chuck, pork, and veal is ideal. If you do all beef, use 1 lb chuck and 1 lb sirloin.
For the bacon, this is one of the rare instances where you want it to be the thin stuff. Thick cut bacon will curl up and separate during the baking.
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 lb ground chuck
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1/2 lb ground veal
- 1 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup minced italian parsley
- 1/2 pack of thinly sliced bacon
Put the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan, whisk together and set aside for later.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees if you are planning to cook this immediately after mixing. Add a swirl of oil to a skillet and saute the onions and garlic until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl or plate so they can cool down.
Put the eggs, salt, pepper, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire, cayenne, and milk in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Add in the three meats and use your hands to gently combine them with the egg mixture. The meat will be very wet at this point but we want to get everything evenly mixed before adding the breadcrumbs. Once the mixture has been evenly integrated, add in the panko breadcrumbs and the parsley. Again, gently work the mixture with your hands until it is evenly blended. If you are not immediately cooking the meatloaf, place the bowl in the fridge for the flavors to meld for 2-3 hours.
Next we want to make sure our seasoning is correct…better to know now rather than after you have cooked the whole thing. To do this, heat a small pan on medium/high. Grab a couple tablespoons of the meat mixture, form a patty, and cook it until it is done. Taste and then add more salt and pepper to the mixture if necessary.
Gather the meat mixture and shape it into a roughly 9×5 loaf shape on your pan. Brush the loaf with about 1/3 of your glaze. Drape slices of bacon over the top, barely over lapping the slices and tucking them underneath the meatloaf as you go along.
Bake for about 50 minutes then turn the heat up to 425 and cook the meatloaf for an additional 15 minutes (to crisp the bacon). I highly recommend using a cooking thermometer to ensure it is properly done. You want the interior temperature of the meatloaf to be around 155 degrees. When it has reached that temperature, remove from the oven and let it stand for about 15 minutes before slicing. While the meatloaf is cooling, heat the remaining glaze for serving.
Slice as thick as you like and serve with the remaining glaze on the side.