I made a goal this summer to learn how to smoke. No, not cigarettes, that would be a terrible goal to set. I’m talking about meat. Smoking meats like a BBQ pit master has always been a goal of mine and this summer I took the first steps towards learning how. Now if you look at the prices of ribs or brisket at the supermarket, you’ll realize like I did that smoking meats is an expensive hobby. $50 for a brisket to learn how to smoke is not very affordable for me. What if I ruined it? I needed a cheaper way to learn and I came up with smoked meatloaf with bacon.
My backstory with smoking is not a pretty one. My first attempt did not go well at all. A few year back, I had grown a huge crop (by home garden standards) of poblano and jalapeño peppers and had the brilliant idea to smoke them. Smoked jalapeños become chipotles and smoked poblanos become anchos. And who wouldn’t want a fresh supply of smoked peppers?
I didn’t have a smoker at the time but that didn’t stop me. All I needed was fire to get smoke. So I filled up my chiminea with logs and made a huge fire. After it had burnt a while and made some red hot coals, I’d put in a log from an old apple tree in there are get some smoke. So I figured that fruit trees made for good smoking wood so there was no need to go and buy any wood chips from the store. I had it all figured out and I was ready to go.
After cutting and preparing my peppers, I put them in a bbq wok tray and balanced it on top of the chiminea. Yes, it was actually on the top of it, the part where the smoke comes out. Basically the chimney of the chiminea. Then I dropped in that super dry chuck of apple wood that I’d been storing in my garage for over a year and whoosh! It was then that I realized that instead of making a DIY smoker, I had accidentally built a jet engine. The flame shot out of that chiminea like a 747 getting ready to take off. There was literally a one foot jet of fire shooting out of the top of my chiminea. And it even sounded just like a jet engine too. WHOOOSSSSH! I stood there dumbfounded and in less than a minute, all of my peppers had turned to black dust.
Years later, I’m a littler more prepared for this task of smoking. Ever since I got the Char Broil Big Easy Smoker Roaster Grill, I’ve been using it almost every day. I’ve been grilling burgers, steaks, vegetables, hot dogs and even pizzas. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable cooking on a grill but smoking foods still brought back horrors of the jet engine incident
So let me tell you how I jumped back in. One of the first good smoked meals that I made was smoked meatloaf with bacon. Since chop meat is relatively inexpensive compared to buying nice cuts of meat, I thought that smoking a meatloaf would be a great way to get some practice in and learn the smoking ropes.
My usual meatloaf recipe is Italian style, stuffed with mozzarella and ham. You rub the outside with ketchup and it gets a nice crusty outside. So I did the same for my smoked meatloaf. The Char Broil Big Easy has 2 shelves on the smoking rack so I made 2 meatloaves.
Now you’d think that smoking a meatloaf would dry it out. To prevent this I put a bacon weave on top. Weaving bacon is a great skill to have if you want to post recipes on the internet. It seems like food bloggers are putting bacon on everything lately. Well this bacon weave has a purpose and that is to keep the meatloaf from drying out.
I choose hickory wood for the smoker box in the Big Easy. Load that thing up with as much wood as fits in there. And put on some old clothes because you’re going to smell like smoked meatloaf with bacon when you’re done and that’s not a bad thing.
I actually made this smoked meatloaf with bacon a few weeks ago and it came out really good. My finicky kids even liked it and ate the leftovers. My kids will order take out from some app on their phones before they even think about leftovers so that means like really liked it.
The best part about leftover meatloaf is a sandwich. Yes, I know that I’m always talking about sandwiches but I am a panini cookbook author after all.
Since making the smoked meatloaf with bacon, I’ve smoked a few other things so if you come back soon I’ll have those other recipes posted here too.
Bottom line, smoked meatloaf with bacon is a tasty and inexpensive way to get started with smoking meats.