Ashley's restaurants, Poole's Downtown Diner (upscale Southern and bistro classics), Beasley's Chicken and Honey (gourmet fried chicken and Southern sides), and Chuck's (a burger joint), are among my absolute favorites and have garnered national attention. (Word on the street is there's another on the way.) Among her many accolades, Ashley was featured on Iron Chef America, by the James Beard foundation, in Bon Appetit magazine, in a recent multi-page spread in the trendsetting Garden & Gun magazine, and-- my favorite-- with a humble meatloaf sandwich recipe in Southern Living.
At the recommendation of a friend and fellow gourmand, I've adapted the recipe so the meatloaf bakes without a loaf pan, creating two free-form meatloaves that are a bit smaller and with more crust. After all, I usually go for the end piece anyway. You can accomplish this by forming the meat mixture into loaves with your hands on a lightly greased cookie sheet, or, as I like to do, on a cooling rack set over a cookie sheet. This allows quite a bit of the fat to drip out of the meatloaf as it's cooking. The result is less grease, more crust, but still a moist and flavorful loaf. The gravy is even better.
I've also lightened the recipe a little by substituting turkey in place of some of the ground pork, but it's misleading to think of this recipe as "light" in any respect. It's full of flavor from bacon, turkey, pork, and seasonings. I love to serve it alongside cooked spaghetti squash with extra gravy. I hope you enjoy this new take on a comfort food classic. The recipe follows.