Thursday, October 21, 2010

Not Your Mama's Meatloaf

Meatloaf can garner strong reactions from a lot of people. In my experience, there are two camps, the ones that love it and always have, and the other ones that loath it, and think it's one of the worst foods ever invented, reminding them of awful cafeteria food. I tend to think that most people who have that preconceived notion have never tried a good meatloaf recipe.  In fact, I would bet that today's featured recipe would convert them all into meatloaf lovers.

Thankfully, our family likes meatloaf, even though there have been a few hits and misses over the years. Anything from sickeningly sweet glazes to plain under-seasoned and bland concoctions. And while no one ever complained much, we didn't know what a truly fabulous meatloaf should taste like until I came across Tyler Florence's version. To us, this is the "ultimate" meatloaf that everyone looks forward to when it's on the menu.

What makes this meatloaf so incredibly tasty and unique is Tyler's use of a homemade Tomato Relish both inside the "meat dough" and also as a glaze. The relish is not hard to make but does require a bit of planning ahead, since it is best not to incorporate the hot relish into your meat. In the past, I've made the relish a day ahead of time and stored it in the refrigerator until ready to use. The meatloaf itself does not call for a lot of fancy ingredients, but does use a mix of ground beef and ground pork. I usually use 93% fat free beef with the pork and the meatloaf turns out perfectly moist, but certainly feel free to use whatever you are accustomed to. Soaking the bread (which is your binder) in milk prior to adding, assures additional moisture in the loaf. And last but certainly not least, the meatloaf is covered with bacon before baking. I mean, come on, there is no way you can go wrong with this recipe at this point. I'm only advising you to use the thick-cut bacon, which can withstand being baked for 1 1/2 hours without shriveling into oblivion or turning to sawdust.

This meatloaf has truly been a family favorite for many years and since it finally cooled down to the low 90's last weekend, my kids have been begging me to make this. There is no way I would attempt turning my oven on for this amount of time in the summer, but this ended up being the perfect weather. I always serve this dish with homemade mashed potatoes and a vegetable on the side. This time my youngest chose my  Peas and Carrots "German Style" which I have featured on my blog before. So if you like meatloaf or even if you've been on the fence about it, I'm urging you to give this very special recipe a try. It makes for an awesome Sunday dinner with loved ones!

Not Your Mama's Meatloaf
(Adapted from Tyler Florence)
(Printable Recipe)


Tomato Relish (make first):
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and finely diced
2 tomatoes, halved, seeded, and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 (12-ounce) bottle ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into chunks by hand
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (I used 93 %)
1 pound ground pork
2 eggs
Leave from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices thick-cut bacon


For the tomato relish: Coat a skillet with a 2-count of oil and place over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and bay leaves for a few minutes to create a base flavor. Throw in the red peppers and cook them for a couple of minutes to soften. Now add the tomatoes; adding them at this point lets them hold their shape and prevents them from disintegrating. Stir in the parsley, ketchup, and Worcestershire; season with salt and pepper. Simmer the relish for 5 minutes to pull all the flavors together. Remove it from the heat; you should have about 4 cups of relish. Let cool.

For the meatloaf: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the torn white bread in a bowl and dd the milk to just barely cover, swish the bread around in the milk and let it sit while you get the rest of the ingredients for the meatloaf together.

This is where you get your hands dirty! In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef and pork with 1 1/2 cups of the tomato relish, the eggs, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the soaked bread to the meat mixture. To test, fry a small "hamburger" patty of the meatloaf until cooked; the patty should hold together but still have a soft consistency. Taste the patty for seasoning.

Lightly oil a cookie sheet (I lined mine with foil that I oiled). Transfer the meat mixture to the center of the cookie sheet and form into a log about 9 inches long and about 4 inches wide. Coat the top of the meatloaf with another 1/2 cup of the tomato relish. Lay the bacon across the top lengthwise.

Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the bacon is crisp and the meatloaf is firm (mine took the full 1 1/2 hours). Rotate the meatloaf while it's baking every now and then to insure that the bacon browns evenly Remove the meatloaf from the oven and it cool a bit before slicing. Serve with the remaining tomato relish on the side.


  1. Susi count me as a meatloaf fan. it's comfort food. Unfortunately it's too easy to mess up meatloaf and I've eaten a fair amount of horrible ones. Yours has bacon and ground pork. I bet I would love it.

  2. I'm also a meatloaf fan (just had it last night--I make individual ones in cupcake tins and then freeze them. Makes for a VERY easy meal when I'm hungry RIGHT NOW and want something healthy.) I make Pat Nixon's meatloaf; it's flavorful and moist. I found the recipe in one of those "Recipes from the First Ladies" cookbooks.

  3. I adore meat loaf. Pretty much anything with ground beef makes my skirt fly up. I have a wonderful meatloaf recipe, but I unfortunately packed away the recipe book containing it into my storage unit. It's been years since I've made it, and attempts to recreate it fall short. Now I have a new recipe to try!

  4. I detested meatloaf as a kid, but now I love it! Well, I love a good, moist, flavourful one and yours looks like it fits the bill exactly. I am saving this one for trying sometime.

  5. Wow, that looks incredible! Tyler Florence would be very happy to see such a beautiful execution of one of his recipes. I'm going to try this one soon.

  6. Yummers! I had meatloaf yesterday that my mom made for dinner:)I ate it a meatloaf sandwich. I will make this tomato relish the next time I make meatloaf because it looks like the most delicious accompinament. Great job Susi:)

  7. (Sorry to delete comment-typo error; due to typing too fast & not checking for errors.)

    Such a coincidence, Susi! I did make the "mom's" kind of meatloaf the other day. It was not hum drum, but does not compare to yours. Printed out the recipe to be sure to make it like yours with the bacon, and the tomato relish, instead of plain old ketchup mix. topping.
    Absolutely beautiful and delish. Photos are superb too!

  8. I totally agree with you!! My husband claimed that he didn't like meatloaf for the longest time, but I think it's just because he didn't like his mom's meatloaf. Now he likes it - and I'm sure he'd love this one!!

  9. I am in LOVE with that last picture, this looks like a really awesome recipe.

  10. About an hour after I read this post I was still thinking about it. So I went to the store, bought the ingredients, came home and made the relish, and shortly I'll be starting the loaf. My husband is really excited!

    They only had regular bacon at my grocery, so I plan to overlap my slices, hoping that will do the trick. I did get the thickest bacon they had, even though it's not technically thick cut.

    I'll let you know how it turns out!

  11. Oh my goodness, I agree with MW...I'm going to be making this tonight. I am normally not a meat loaf girl, but after seeing/reading this recipe, I'm so eager to try it out! Plus, meatloaf is a comfort food, which is exactly what I need right now. Thank you for sharing!

  12. mw and Monet, I really hope you guys will like it! mw - the bacon should be fine, you might just have to watch it a little closer :o)

  13. I go back and forth on meatloaf. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I pick around it like my plate will open up and just take it away. But I just might have to try this :)

  14. Mmmm, the bacon sounds like the cherry on top, in a manner of speaking :-)

  15. I have made this recipe and it is great. Yours looks great. Meatloaf gets a bad rap. My kids love it and often ask for it for Christmas dinner.

    Plan B

  16. Susi-You've been tagged. Please answer my 8 questions on a separate page, and post 8 questions of your own to tag 7 bloggers. Thanks for participating!

    Here are my 8 questions to 7 bloggers, that I will be tagging.

    1. What is your all time favorite comfort food?

    2. What kind of foods did you take to school, for lunch? (any grade)

    3. What is your favorite all time cooking show on T.V... past or present...and why?

    4. Which celebrity, famous person, or famous chef, would yo invite to your next holiday party in

    your home, and why?

    5. Which holiday you love the most?

    6. If you won an all expense paid trip for ten days to the choice of the official Top 3 wine regions

    which of the 3 would you pick? 1.) Bordeaux, France, 2.) Tuscany Italy,

    or Napa Valley, California (these are in their actual order on the top 10 favorites)

    7. What kind of food you absolutely hated, growing up, as a young child, or teenager.

    8. What was the most dreaded dish that you prepared and said you would never prepare it again?

    Finished my Links, and will be tagging you good people!

    Any one that would like to jump on the "bandwagon"...please, do so!

    1. spoon-and-chopsticks

    2. dreams of sugarplums

    3. brenda's canadian kitchen

    4. food fun freak

    5. susi's kitchen

    6. patty-a day with me

    7. deba roo roo

  17. Just saved this recipe. I love it!! Bacon, yum, Meatloaf, yum, the combination is a winner, thanks!

  18. Well, mit Bacon schmeckt eben alles besser, oder? Ich habe erst einmal (vor langer Zeit) meatloaf gekocht. Mochte keiner. Desshalb bin ich ein bisschen zoegerlich. Wie Du schon sagtest, vielleicht sid wir ja keine Meatloaf Familie? I don't know.
    Dein Rezept gefaellt mir aber sehr. Vielleicht sollte ich es ja nochmal wagen?

  19. I'm a meatloaf convert! I used to loath it, but I've come around by adding lots of extra (distracting) flavors. This looks truly awesome!

  20. Looks so sinful but that's what makes it goooodddd!!!!

  21. This is a fantastic meatloaf recipe! I'm a recent convert and have a feeling your meatloaf will seal the deal on it :)

  22. This meatloaf sounds so yummy! I love the bacon on top!

  23. This sounds and looks delicious!

  24. I love meatloaf Susi! Making some today! This looks beyond delicious with the tomato relish and bacon! Bet the relish would be good on burgers too.

  25. Okay, I made the meatloaf. It was a MAJOR hit! Even my mother enjoyed it, and she's a lifelong meatloaf hater.

    The tomato relish was delicious! I'm trying to think of other ways to implement that in recipes. All I've got for the moment is as a substitute for ketchup on burgers.

    I added 1 pint of finely chopped mushrooms, as mushrooms are one of my favorite things to put in meatloaf. I sauteed them after I made the relish, and let them cool down. Since they add moisture, I added 1/2 cup breadcrumbs to the loaf mix.

    The think bacon turned out just fine, baking for 1:15 was good.

    Thanks for this recipe, it's going into my recipe file to stay!

  26. Love Tyler's recipes. The homemade relish really brings the meatloaf up a notch. Yours looks delicious.

  27. *Drools like Homer Simpson* I know two very hungry bacon lovers who will cream themselves over this recipe. And Believe it or not, I'm not one of them. Sadly, I'm on a diet... but I'll be enjoying the smells, you betcha!

  28. This looks fab- but I'm wondering it I can make it friendly to my lifestyle. Gluten free, dairy free, egg free? Maybe gluten free bread, almond milk and egg substitute (either the powder or beaters?) I also would need to make it kosher. Poor Tyler, I wonder if he would still call this his recipe after...

  29. I love meatloaf but never want to make it b/c it's not really what I envision as "classy." Does that make me a bad person????? Anyway, this looks awesome, so I will make this. The Booze Hound will rejoice since he is always asking me to make more classics. Hmm, it's classic instead of classy... :)

  30. I don't get the dislike of meatloaf either; if you make it at home and use quality ingredients it's a completely different beast from cafeteria food. I've been looking to improve mine and this looks awesome. I think I saw it on TV a while back, too. I think my family would fight over the bacon though...

  31. OK... can I just tell you have envious I am of your meatloaf photos????!!! ;) See... meatloaf can be pretty! You did it! Nicely done Susi!
    Loved your comment about the coffee... my girlfriends make endless fun of me when I tell them that he brings me my coffee every day. He's out of town for two weeks and I'm having far less coffee! I miss my service with a smile.
    I actually had your name in the tag and thought twice as I figured you would be getting your fair share of tagging... I'm off to read your questions and answers!
    Congrats on the best looking meatloaf I've ever seen!

  32. Holy moly, that is some bacon on top of a meatloaf! Why didn't I ever think of that? Ingenious.

  33. Congratulations on the Top 9 Susi! This sounds like a terrific recipe. Bread soaked in milk, meat covered in bacon... mmm.... And yes I love meatloaf!

  34. Oh my I just love meatloaf! But yours looks soooo delicious with the tomato relish and the BACON! Everything is better with bacon. YUM! Thanks for sharing this tasty recipe Susi. :)

  35. Tyler Florence rocks. I love his Ultimate show. Thanks for sharing his recipe with us!


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