It’s a well-known fact that most any foodie’s first memories of really good food was from their mother’s (or grandmother’s) kitchen. AND, it was usually based on comfort food. For me, it was my mom’s meat loaf. When things were darkest and despair could only be lessened by food, meat loaf was made and served with mashed potatoes and green beans. It’s truly the trifecta of comfort foods.

The meat loaf was always topped with a goopey glaze of ketchup, then with bacon. The consistency was light and had a crumbly texture in the cross-section. The potatoes were light and fluffy, even that they were laden with butter. She would insert a serving spoon into the potatoes, make a large scoop, and with the flick of the wrist, plop the perfect-sized portion onto a plate. The mound always had “stiff peaks”, like just-whipped cream. The green beans were always the fine French variety, skinny and small, and cooked till al dente. They were finished with a pat of butter, and a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Do I have your attention yet?

“Mom Food” is special to me. My parents knew it was a special boy-friend when he got to have my mother’s meat loaf. (Any time my mother cooks, I hoard the food, and dish out only to the chosen few.) So, without further adieu, I give you THE RECIPE. I feel that I’m doing us all a favor, by recording this for posterity. Serve with a Cabernet (is there any other way?). Run to the store and make this as soon as you can. Freeze the leftovers (ha).

Bacon-Wrapped Meat Loaf with Brown Sugar-Ketchup Glaze

Serves 6-8


½ cup ketchup

4 tablespoons light brown sugar

4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Meat Loaf

2 teaspoons oil

1 medium onion, chopped finely

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 large eggs

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon Tabasco

½ cup whole milk or plain yogurt

2 pounds meat (total) = 1 pound ground beef, ½ pound ground pork, ½ pound ground veal

2/3 cup bread crumbs

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely

8-12 slices thinly-cut bacon

Make the glaze, mixing all ingredients in a small saucepan and set aside.

Heat oven to 350F. Heat oil in medium skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool, while preparing remaining ingredients.

Mix eggs with thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and milk (or yogurt). Add egg mixture to meat in a large bowl, along with bread crumbs, parsley and cooked onion and garlic. Mix with fork until evenly blended and meat mixture does not stick to the bowl. (If sticks to the side of the bowl, add a little more milk or yogurt until it no longer sticks to the side of the bowl.)

Turn meat mixture onto a foil-lined sheet pan. With wet hands, pat mixture into approximately 9” x 5” loaf shape. Brush with half the glaze, then arrange bacon slices, crosswise, over loaf, overlapping slightly and tucking bacon tip ends under the loaf (if necessary).

Bake loaf until bacon is crisp and loaf registers 160F, about an hour. Cool at least 20 minutes. Simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until thickened slightly. Slice meat loaf and serve with extra glaze on the side.

*Note: this is not prepared in a loaf pan. It really does yield a nicer finished result, the sides and top crunchy since all exposed. Resist the inclination to use a loaf pan. You’ll be glad you did.

Original recipe and photo courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated magazine (the best).