2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup crushed barbecue chicharrones
1/2 sweet onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon smoked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pound ground beef
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray a loaf pan with olive oil.
In a large wide bowl, beat 2 eggs.
Crush enough chicharrones to make 1 1/2 cup of crumbs. Add the crumbs to the eggs.
Dice 1/2 sweet onion to make about 1/2 cup of onion bits. Add those to the bowl.
Sprinkle in 1/4 teaspoon smoked black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika.
Add 1 pound ground beef. Mix everything together. Form into a log shape. Put it into the loaf pan and pat smooth.
Bake at 350ºF for 1 hour 15 minutes. When done, the top should be browned and the juices should run clear. You can cut this one right away; it holds together pretty well when cut.
Chicharrones are crunchy bits of fried pig skin. They come in various flavors. If you use a flavored version, you don't need to add much more seasoning. I used barbecue chicharrones because that's what my partner likes as a snack. In this case, the smoked black pepper and smoked paprika support the seasoning on the chicharrones. If you use plain chicharrones, you can add whatever flavors you want -- barbecue, taco, chili, all-purpose herb blend, etc. Any flavor you see on a package of chicharrones should work. An advantage is that chicharrones have few or no carbohydrates, unlike crackers (a common meatloaf filler) or barbecue sauce (a popular topper). Certified gluten-free versions avoid the risk of cross-contamination, but they're not supposed to have gluten anyway.
Sweet onion is less hot than other types. For darker, fruitier notes use red onion. For spicier meatloaf, use a hotter onion, either yellow or white. Raw onion added to meatloaf typically comes out al dente. If you want it soft, you can saute the onion before adding it to the mix, but that takes considerably longer.
DO NOT add salt to this recipe! Your chicharrones include plenty of salt already.
The flavor is rich, meaty, and umami -- in this case, with definite barbecue notes.