Notes from Michelle: Yes, I know it is Tuesday, not Monday. It has been a difficult week. And, the meatloaf should look like the right side of the meatloaf, but we broke it taking it off the smoker, so I may replace this photo at a later date with a better one. I could have tried to Photoshop it, but hey, we all do things like this, so I thought it would be better to give you the real thing.
One of the childhood favorites of mine is meatloaf…this is one of those things that I still will order if it’s on the menu when we are out. Last week I made the Bacon explosion, and it started me thinks again about meatloaf since the shape is similar. When I mentioned it to Michelle she told me that her mother Joan had shared with her Junior Woman’s Club for a fund raiser cookbook when she was a child. Michelle still has a copy and showed it to me. I thought that I would see how “smoking” a meatloaf would turn out. It was very good to say the least I will be doing this one again time permitting.
So let’s get started. One of the main issues with cooking a meatloaf on the grill is that is cannot sit directly on the grill, it will come apart ad fall through :). I used a disposable mesh cooking grid similar to this http://www.barbecue-store.com/Disposable-Grill-Toppers-16x12_p_43.html. I have mine attached to one of my removable grills I have been using it for a while, I got it from the local food distributor off the shelf so you most likely can find one your self if you want one. The other option is to use a grill sheet similar to this http://www.amazon.com/Grill-O-Sheet-10110-BBQ-Grill-Topper/dp/B00099YSV4. It too can be purchased local to you if you want to look around for it. The main purpose of using a mesh grill topper is so that the fat from the meat can drip off into the water pan, or on to a fire deflecting plate. This makes the meat less fatty when your ready to serve it. With cooking it low and slow the ground meat stays moist, and the flavors meld through out the cook cycle. The key to this is to maintain temp as close as you can to 225°.
The smoker setup is basically the same as you would for smoking meat. I used the Maverick ET732 digital thermometer inserted into the meatloaf after I set it on the grill. Start your grill after you have put the meatloaf together and covered it in the fridge. This will allow your spices to “soak in” while you get the rest going. I would say it usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get the smoker put together and temperature settled in. For this smoke I used a mixture of hickory wood and finished with apple wood. I had not placed the mesh grill on the fire prior to loading the meatloaf on, I used the the second grill to hold the BBQ probe so I could monitor the smoker temp. When it was the proper temperature, I removed the probe holder from the grill and placed the mesh covers grill on top of it. I have a couple of very long spatulas that I use when grilling and these made transferring the meatloaf to the grill easier. Once everything was on the smoker I replaced the BBQ probe and inserted the meat temp probe finished coating the meatloaf with ketchup, covered the smoker an waited for everything to happen….kinda like magic!
A couple of things before we start.
- This recipe originally was to be cooked in the oven. If this is your intention you will set the temp at 400° the loaf should be on a broiler pan so that the fat will drip away and the meat will have less fat in it. The cook time should be around 1 hour or till it reaches an internal temperature of 165°.
2. As normal I have adjusted the recipe just a bit.
2 lbs. ground beef
1 med onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped (my add)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (my add)
3/4 cup tomato sauce (my adjust)
3 oz. tomato paste (my add)
18 salt crackers
Mix all ingredients EXCEPT the ketchup in a bowl by hand. Form into an oblong shape about ½ inches thick. Place back into the refrigerator while you put the smoker together and bring it up to temperature. This will also allow for the spices time to flavor the meat before smoking.
You want to maintain 225° throughout the cook and you also want to keep the meatloaf in smoke. You will need to move the meatloaf on to the cooking mesh or sheet and place it on the smoker. Insert the digital thermometer probe into the meatloaf (if you are using one similar to the maverick ET 732 that I use) then brush or pour the ketchup on top of the meatloaf and cover the smoker….now other that watching the temperature you just have to sit back and enjoy the magic.
IMHO this was a very tasty meal, it took around 3 hours to full cook to an internal temp of 165°. When I went back for leftovers the next day it was gone…I guess I will have to be quicker next time.
Until next week, take care.