If you’re like me, meatloaf is associated with traumatic childhood dinners, where you weren’t allowed to leave the table until you finished everything on your plate. And at my house, this included canned green beans that were boiled plain. I think it’s fair to say that most people don’t crave meatloaf for dinner, but by incorporating smoke and bacon, this once-boring meal may very well become a new favorite.
I prefer to use bison, which is a lean meat, in my meatloaf. But the fat from the bacon helps lock in moisture. This recipe can be used with ground elk or venison, although I recommend adding 15 to 20 percent mild Italian ground pork sausage to keep it from drying out.
4 to 5 servings
2 pounds ground bison
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tbsp Worcestershire
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 pound bacon
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, eggs, spices and Worcestershire sauce and mix with your hands. Add bread crumbs and mix well. Roll into a smooth round ball
Warm up smoker grill to 375 F for about 10 minutes.:
Weave bacon into a mat on a large cutting board or cookie sheet.
For the bacon weave:
On a baking sheet, lay 6-8 strips of bacon vertically and flush up against each other across a rimmed baking sheet. Fatty sides should all face one direction, and meaty sides should all face the other direction. The width should match the length of the strips.
Fold every other strip in half onto itself. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those strips, flush up against the back of the folds. Unfold those flipped strips back over the perpendicular strip of bacon.
Now fold every other strip in the alternating columns. Lay one strip of bacon perpendicular to those strips, flush up against the back of the folds. Unfold those strips back down over the perpendicular strip of bacon.
Repeat again with the first set of strips. Do the same thing for the upper half of the weave. There should be the same number of strips going down as there are going across.
Once the bacon weave is complete, form meat into a round loaf and place on top of bacon weave. Fold the 4 corners of weave into the center. Add additional bacon slices to the weave to encapsulate the loaf. Use toothpicks as needed.
Rotate the loaf so that the original bacon weave is facing up and place on the smoker grill. Cook at 375 F for approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours, until internal temperature reaches 145 F.
Remove from heat and let rest on cutting board for 5 minutes.
Slice, serve with ketchup, or your favorite barbecue sauce, and enjoy.