I've made many variations of meatloaf but this is the best and most loved by all. I mean it has BACON! IN it and ON it! And, it's cooked in an iron skillet, giving it a distinct crisp on the bottom that you just can't get from a roasting pan or cake pan. Infused with flavor. Juicy. Meaty. Just a comfort food deluxe. You're gonna love it!
Why does it have a hole in it, you ask? That's the perfect little well from which to collect your fat drippings to make gravy. Also, it assists in cooking the entire loaf faster & more evenly.
In a large bowl, combine ALL ingredients (except bacon.) Wash and use your hands to mix... No better kitchen utensils than your own hands. (If this freaks you out, wear gloves.) Wash hands thoroughly. (If your mixture seems too wet, add a few more bread crumbs.)
Chop 3 slices of bacon into about 1/2 inch pieces and crisp up in your iron skillet over Medium heat, stirring often. Add bacon AND half of the drippings to the meat mixture. Wait until cool enough to handle and mix it in thoroughly, (again with your hands.)
Place the meat mixture into the iron skillet. (Yes, right on top of that bacon grease... that's where the crunch comes from.) Flatten out the meat evenly into the skillet, then starting in the middle, use your fingers to form a hole about 2-3 inches in diameter.
Slice the last 3 pieces of bacon in half and top the meatloaf ring with the 6 slices. Refer to image.* I do mine in a pinwheel pattern for maximum coverage and also tuck the ends under the meat in the center, which is also an extra precaution to prevent the meat from filling up that hole, (which will fill up with the perfect fat drippings for gravy fixin's. While the meatloaf is cooking, just dip your spoon in there and collect some fat, or wait til it's out of the oven, which is safer, but I like to make my gravy while it's still in the oven so everything is done all together.)
Optional step: Pepper the bacon slightly, (or heavily if you really like black pepper.)
Place the skillet into the oven and cook until bubbly all around and the bacon is pretty much done. This may vary in each oven so just keep an eye on it. There is no exact time to cook this. I cooked mine for about 20-25 minutes. If you leave it in the oven too long, the bottom may burn. A good way to check is to pull it out and touch the top, if it doesn't give, it's done... if it gives just a little, it's still done, it just won't be AS firm.