A Mighty Bacon Bomb, that is.
There are really three ways of making a Bacon Bomb, otherwise known as a bacon-wrapped meat loaf. The simplest method is to just take your own meat loaf recipe, and before you put the loaf in its pan, layer the bottom of the pan with slices of bacon (otherwise known as rashers), and lay a few more on top of the loaf should the rashers on the bottom of the pan not be able to reach all the way around. Other than maybe adding a few more minutes' cooking time, you can follow your own recipe pretty much to the letter.
But here's how I make the Mighty Bacon Bomb.
2 - 2.5 lbs. lean ground beef
1 lb. pork sausage - for even more bacony goodness, try Farmland's Pork & Bacon Sausage
1 twelve-ounce package of bacon - preferably not thick-sliced
1 medium onion, finely diced (optional: 1 green bell pepper, finely diced, or a can of diced green chilis)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 - 1.5 cups Panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) or regular unseasoned bread crumbs
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 - 2 dashes of the hot sauce of your choice (Tabasco or Sriracha work best)
A few drops of liquid smoke
Set aside the bacon. Combine all the other loaf ingredients in a large bowl and knead together until the mixture is relatively homogenous, but don't over-mix.
Here's where things get interesting. Since this is such a large recipe, a regular loaf pan may not work all that well. Usually, I put the loaf into a large rectangular (8" x 11" or so) casserole dish. Then I lay down rashers of bacon on top of the loaf, lengthwise. Then I weave the remaining rashers into the lengthwise strips - basically making a mat of bacon. I snip off the excess of the second set of rashers, and use them to fill in any gaps in the mat and make it look relatively even.
But tonight, at Joy's behest, I tried using a regular loaf pan. What I did was line the bottom of the pan with bacon like I mentioned at the top of this article, put the mixture inthe pan, then covered the top with more bacon. The loaf went into a preheated 400-degree oven. Because of the thickness of the loaf, I wound up taking nearly 90 minutes to cook it through to an internal temperature of about 160 degrees, and dropping the oven down to 350 degrees to keep the outside of the loaf from burning.
From here on out, we'll go back to using the casserole dish for our example. After putting the loaf mixture in the casserole dish and assembling the mat, cover the loaf in a layer of tinfoil and place in a 400-degree oven for 45 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine the barbecue sauce ingredients in order over medium heat and cook until the sauce just starts to bubble up, about eight to ten minutes or so. Drop the heat to low and let the sauce simmer.
When the timer on the oven goes off, take about half a cup of your sauce and put it in a ramekin. Pull the loaf from the oven, and drain off as much of the fat as possible to a suitable container. (NOTE: You may have to do this more than once during the cooking process. A good safety measure would be to have a cookie sheet under the cooking vessel to catch any fat that drips from the cooking vessel.) Bring the loaf up to the stove top, remove the foil, and brush the loaf with the sauce in the ramekin. Return the loaf to the oven without the foil for another fifteen minutes, or until the loaf hits an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Pull the loaf out of the oven, and let it stand for a few minutes before slicing it thin for serving. This recipe should serve five or six adults, with leftovers for sandwiches the next morning.
Here's what my loaf looked like tonight in a regular loaf pan:
Just a big ol' nasty mess, ain't it? But damn it, it tastes good! This is family cooking for the family that just loves food, and is willing to work that Mighty Bacon Bomb off later that night, or the next day. In fact, I think I'll take a nice walk...... once the Mighty Bacon Bomb coma wears off. Cheers!