Serious Eats has designated October 18 as National Meatloaf Appreciation Day. To celebrate, they are hosting a blog roundup dedicated to the ubiquitous dish. The rules are pretty straightforward. Prepare a meatloaf. Photograph it. Post about it. Submit it. Sure, I can do that. The biggest challenge I faced was deciding what kind of meatloaf to make.
As a busy mom, I have made many a meatloaf. It can be mixed up and put together the night before, drastically cutting down on meal prep time. That comes in pretty handy when you’re zooming into the kitchen after a hectic day. It is a tasty, filling and versatile comfort food, that ages well. The leftovers can be eaten as is, or turned into something else, such as sandwiches or meatloaf hash. (Yes, hash. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!) Meatloaf is also the kind of dish that happily lends itself to experimentation. There are literally millions of variations on this theme. Just for fun, I Googled “meatloaf recipes” and within two seconds had about 1,760,000 listings to choose from. Mind boggling!
I have a couple of tried and true meatloaf recipes that I have relied on over the years. All are pretty popular at my house. As a matter of fact, the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Turkey Meatloaf was the first that sprang to mind. I love that recipe! But, then I thought, for my very first blog roundup I really should dazzle ’em a little and develop my own original meatloaf recipe. And there, my journey began………..
I prepared my family for this by announcing that the upcoming week would be “Meatloaf Week” at our house. I explained that I would be preparing a different kind meatloaf every night and that they would get to judge which one should be included in the roundup. It was kind of hard to tell by the looks on their faces whether they were happy about this or not, but I didn’t care. I was on a mission – a quest, if you will – to find the holy grail of meatloaf!
The first night, I made “Pacific Rim Meatloaf”, with chicken, panko, egg, garlic, cilantro, Thai chili sauce and a teriyaki/honey glaze. The original recipe is for burgers with a fabulous mayonnaise sauce laced with ginger, relish and garlic. Something definitely got lost in the translation. The meatloaf was okay, but it didn’t pack the same flavor wallop that the burgers did. Using chicken as the only meat made it a little bit dry. Also, without the sauce, it was kind of blah. Nope, this wasn’t “it”.
The next recipe I tried was “Albondigas Meatloaf”. For this one, I used a beef and pork combination with diced chorizo, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, oregano, cumin and canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I have to say that it was really good. A definite contender.
For my third meatloaf incarnation, I decided to go back to my roots with “Meatloaf Involtini”. This was the most involved recipe of the three, requiring several components. Meatloaf Involtini begins with a mixture of ground pork, beef and veal, combined with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, onion, egg, parsley and milk. It is basically the same recipe that I use for my meatballs. The meat is then spread out on a sheet pan and topped with a filling of garlic, pine nuts and more bread crumbs, egg, parsley and Parmesan. On top of that goes a layer of hot cappicola ham and fresh mozzarella. Actually, you could use prosciutto or any other kind of ham. I like the cappicola because it is a little spicy. Then, the whole thing is (very) carefully rolled up into a log, covered with marinara sauce and baked.
Well, I have just one word to describe this dish. FANTASTICO! Really, it was great! The flavors and all of the different textures in the dish just popped in your mouth. I knew that my search was over. It was a good thing, too. As I sat across the table from my glassy-eyed family that night, I could tell that the novelty of Meatloaf Week was wearing thin! Honestly, I didn’t know how much more meatloaf they could take.
So here it is, my homage to meatloaf:
For the meatloaf:
1 lb each of ground chuck, veal and pork
1 c. Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. grated onion
1/2 c. minced flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 c. tomato sauce
For the filling:
1/2 c. Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. minced parsley
4 cloves crushed garlic
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 egg, beaten
1/4 lb cappicola, sliced thinly
1 lg fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the meatloaf by mixing all ingredients, except tomato sauce, together in a large bowl until well combined.
Line a baking sheet with wax paper, leaving at least 2 extra inches of paper hanging over each end.
Spread the meat out onto the wax paper, and flatten it , gently nudging it outward until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the first 6 filling ingredients together until it resembles a dry paste. Spread paste evenly on top of meat, leaving a 2 inch border at each end.
Layer the cappicola and mozzarella on top.
Take hold of the wax paper on one end and very carefully begin to roll up the meatloaf. Use the wax paper to help, gently tucking the meat under as you roll. Pinch the seams a bit to seal any openings in the meat. Carefully rotate the meatloaf one quarter turn so that it is lying lengthwise on the pan. (I moved mine to a baking dish.)
Pour the tomato sauce over the top of the meatloaf.
Bake for approximately 90 minutes, until nicely browned. You may need to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
Slice and serve.