Smoky Meat Loaf with Prune Ketchup

As a teenager, Grant Achatz perfected his meat loaf–making technique at his parents' restaurant. But he had the most memorable version of his life only about 10 years ago, when he was visiting a girlfriend in Lansing, Michigan, and ordered smoked meat loaf. It inspired the pistachio-studded recipe here, which combines beautifully seasoned meat with the smoky Spanish paprika, smoked salt and ground bacon.


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  • Servings: 8 to 10

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  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise pod, broken
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced fennel bulb
  • 1 small celery rib, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)
  • 1 pound sliced bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 3 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup fresh pumpernickel bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt or smoked sea salt
  • Prune Ketchup, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a spice grinder, combine the celery seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns and star anise and grind to a powder.

  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion, minced fennel, celery, garlic, pimentón and the ground spices and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

  3. In a food processor, pulse the bacon until finely ground. In a large bowl, mix the bacon with the ground beef. Mix in the eggs and maple syrup followed by the vegetable mixture, bread crumbs, pistachios and salt.

  4. Pat the meat mixture into two 9-by-4-inch loaves and set them on opposite sides of a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of each loaf registers 160°. Let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the meat loaf into thick slices and serve with the Prune Ketchup.

Make Ahead

The baked meat loaf can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Smoked sea salt is available at specialty food stores and at SaltWorks.

Suggested Pairing

To complement this smoky, peppery, earthy meat loaf, look for a full-bodied Valpolicella from Italy's northeastern Veneto region that will echo the flavors of the dish.

Contributed By Published December 2006

468751 recipes/smoky-meat-loaf-with-prune-ketchup 2013-12-06T23:49:35+00:00 Grant Achatz game-day|holiday-open-house|american|10|8|make-ahead december-2006,comfort food,smoky meatloaf,Grant Achatz,alinea,meat loaf recipe recipes,smoky-meat-loaf-with-prune-ketchup 468751

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