Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf: You'll never want mom's again

bacon. The one form of pork product that stood above all the rest (I'm not knocking the others, but bacon is by far the most popular). We wanted to keep the bacon flavor dominant, so instead of putting it in the meat mixture, we decided to wrap it around the entire loaf. People wrap food in bacon all the time: asparagus, shrimp, even filet mignon, why not wrap a hunk of ground meat in it? So it was done and it was amazing.

Our meatloaf was adapted from The Joy of Cooking (my favorite cookbook of all time) and, besides the bacon, there were a few more additions and an accidental omission. We forgot to add the breadcrumbs. Oops. Luckily, it was a happy accident- the meatloaf stayed together, it didn't crumble after baking when it was cut, and I think leaving it out made it more moist. The bacon also probably had a lot to do with it staying together and the moisture factor. So the use of breadcrumbs or oats is to your preference. As for the bacon, why not try maple flavored or hickory smoked for a tasty twist? Another fun flavor addition to this would be to use barbecue sauce in the mix (I suggest Basil-Balsamic Barbecue Sauce). To add an instant side dish, throw in some root vegetables (i.e.: carrots, potatoes, turnips, etc.) that have been peeled and cut up into bite-sized pieces alongside your meatloaf before you bake it- they cook to perfection with the meatloaf and soak up the flavor from the drippings. Could this recipe get any better?!

This recipe makes one huge loaf, but it's great because then you'll have leftovers, think: meatloaf sandwich. This meatloaf is so phenomenal that I should've labeled the recipe "top secret", but I'm an advocate of spreading happiness with food, which is why I'm sharing it with the world. Enjoy!

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

(serves 8-10; adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

3 1/2 pounds ground beef (preferably ground chuck)

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 cup dry breadcrumbs or quick-cooking oats (obviously, optional)

2/3 ketchup (or substitute barbecue sauce)

3 tablespoons dijon mustard

2/3 cup chopped fresh herbs (i.e.: parsley, oregano, rosemary)

2 eggs, beaten

1-2 tablespoons garlic powder or a few cloves of garlic, minced (I used both, the more the better!)

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon black pepper

1 package bacon

Optional: 2-3 cups root vegetables, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add all ingredients in a large bowl and knead with hands to combine (don't overmix).

2. Put meatloaf mixture in a 13"x9" baking pan and form into a loaf shape (or whatever shape your heart desires). Cover top of loaf with the entire package of bacon, or until there's no more space, laying the strips side by side.

3. Bake in the 425 degree oven on the middle rack for the first 20 minutes to "sear" the bacon and help it to get crispy. Lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake another 40 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted reads 160 degrees.

4. Pour off the grease and let it sit at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving to keep the juices inside.

You know how everyone claims that their mom makes the best meatloaf and no one else's can compare to it? I would have agreed with that, until I found this recipe for bacon-wrapped meatloaf. The classic comfort dish that is meatloaf and delicious salty bacon combine to make a juicy, meaty, melt-in-your-mouth taste explosion. Hungry yet? Read on.

This version of meatloaf was actually a collaboration and experiment by myself and my guinea pig/willing victim (a.k.a.: boyfriend) one Sunday afternoon. The idea was to make a better version of standard meatloaf, but how? What would elevate it from a simple comfort food to one sexy hunk of meat? And then the idea was born:

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