Coat a skillet with a 2-count of oil and place over medium heat. SautĂ© the onion, garlic, and bay leaves for a few minutes to create a base flavor. Throw in the red peppers and cook them for a couple of minutes to soften. Now add the tomatoes; adding them at this point lets them hold their shape and prevents them from disintegrating. Stir in the parsley, ketchup, and Worcestershire; season with salt and pepper. Simmer the relish for 5 minutes to pull all the flavors together. Remove it from the heat; you should have about 4 cups of relish.
Preheat the oven to 350Â°F. This is where you get your hands dirty! In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef with 11/2 cups of the tomato relish, the eggs, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Add the bread crumbs in stages, starting with 3/4 cup; you may not need all of them. To test, fry a small â€śhamburgerâ€ť patty of the meatloaf until cooked; the patty should hold together but still have a soft consistency. Taste the patty for seasoning.
Fill a 9×5-inch loaf pan with the meat mixture and tap the pan on the counter so it settles. Flatten the top with a spatula and cover with another 1/2 cup of the tomato relish. Lay the bacon across the top lengthwise. Place the pan on a cookie sheet; this prevents the liquid from dripping and burning on the bottom of the oven. (I also recommend rotating the meatloaf a few times so the bacon browns evenly.)
Bake the meatloaf for 1 to 11/2 hours until the bacon is crisp and the meatloaf pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it cool a bit before slicing. Serve with the remaining tomato relish on the side. Unbelievably moist!
Edited: October 14th, 2009