Monday, October 15, 2012

Chipotle Apple & Bacon Smoked Meatloaf

We're smokin' again! Making hay while the sun shines...or something like that.  I wish I could say we were lounging on the deck, enjoying the gurgling of the pond with a cold one while tending the smoker, but that was not to be.  
Mark and I were like Aesop's busy ant getting ready for the winter doing the mowing, the leaves, winterizing the pond, moving potted plants from the deck to their winter home in Kimber's old get the picture.  At least once the work was done, dinner was quite the reward!

What were we smoking?  Chipotle Apple & Bacon Smoked Meatloaf.  Now, some pretty fantastic stuff comes off our smoker on a regular basis (like the Spiced Apple Balsamic Smoked Pork Loin we did recently). Frequently, something really knocks our socks off, THIS went above and beyond even that!
Yes, the smoky, meaty, wonder that Sunday's smokefest produced is a simple meatloaf.  Okay, it might be simple to make, but the flavors are anything but boring.  This succulent merger of meats…ground pork and beef, studded with sweet apple chunks and onion, underscored by a double smoky duo of bacon and chipotle pepper and smoked over applewood...became something so much more than any meatloaf either of us has ever had before.  

Slow smoking, bacon and juicy apples helped to keep the finished product moist, yet firm.  From the pic, you may think there was a glaze involved in the process.  No glaze, just the beautiful color produced by smoke and time that painted the surface with picture perfect apple-y, bacon-y richness.     

You're probably thinking, "But wait, meatloaf on the smoker?  Doesn’t it ooze through the grates?"  Nope, no oozing.  I figured that one out.  Duh...aluminum foil over the grate with a few holes poked into it to let the smoke circulate worked perfectly.  Not exactly a genius solution, but an easy one.

If you don't have a smoker or if it's the middle of winter (and too cold outside to keep the temp up inside the smoker), just make it in the oven.  It won't have that through and through smoky goodness, but it will still be absolutely delicious. 

Give this one a try...sweet applewood smoke added a dimension so delicious to a plain old meatloaf that we'll be making it often around here.

 Chipotle Apple & Bacon Smoked Meatloaf

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 80/20
  • 3 slices bacon, thick sliced, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 1/2 large onions, chunked
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored & cut into 1/2" dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, BIG ones
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh whole grain bread made into fine crumbs, - use gluten-free bread to make this GF
  • 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, LOTS
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper (Penzey's carries this and even McCormick does now, too!)
  • 1 slice bacon, thin slice, cut in half across

While the food processor is running, drop the garlic cloves down the tube and process until they're fine.  Add the onions and process until fine.  Set aside.

Saute the bacon until it releases most of the fat.  Add the onions & garlic and the apple and cook until the onion is translucent.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Mix the meats, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper and chipotle pepper.  Mix lightly, but well.  Add the apple mixture and again mix lightly, but well.  Shape into two loaves.   (Making two smaller loaves lets them cook through more easily and gets more smoke flavor deep into the meat.  The other advantage is you can easily put one in the freezer to enjoy when it's too cold out to smoke!)  Stretch a piece of bacon of the top of each loaf to make it pretty and tell you what's inside.   


Lookin' all pretty and ready to smoke!

Prepare the smoker, using applewood chips, the way you normally would.  Place aluminum foil over the grate and poke a few holes through it.  Gently settle the meatloaves onto the foil.  Cover and smoke.  Maintain the temp around 225-250 degrees and add soaked applewood chips as necessary.  It took ours about 5 hours.  How long it takes will depend on the size of the loaves and the temperature so check along the way.

When done, remove to a platter and let sit for 20 minutes before slicing. 

Be sure to make some great sandwiches with the leftovers!

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