February 04, 2011
A couple weeks ago, I made a Lamb Meatloaf with Indian Spices, inspired by a meatloaf article in the current issue of Fine Cooking. I was happy with how that turned out, and continue to be inspired by that article's discussion of how you can successfully make a wide variety of different meatloaves by varying ingredients but maintaining a general ratio of so much meat to so much of various other sorts of ingredients, so last weekend I made an Italian meatloaf. Once again I came up with a version somewhat different from that suggested in the article, and didn't let their choices of ingredients or their ratios constrain me too much. And once again it turned out pretty well.
As with any meatloaf, this one is based on the meat, which in this case is a mixture of one pound of ground veal mixed with a half-pound each of lean ground beef and Graziano Bros. sweet Italian sausage. Other key ingredients include white wine (added to the aromatics and cooked down) and freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. The wine and the cheese provided a richness of flavor beyond that typical for a meatloaf, while the combination of tomato paste, tomato sauce and a bit of brown sugar provided more depth of flavor, not to mention a glaze more typically Italian than the standard ketchup glaze.
I've found one key to a good meatloaf is to cook it a way that allows excess fat and moisture to drain off as it cooks, as opposed to staying in the pan and making the bottom third of the meatloaf soggy and greasy. Once again I achieved this goal by cooking the meatloaf on a broiler pan.
The meatloaf had a firm, well-browned crust with some cracks where tasty cheese had bubbled up through the surface, yet was moist on the inside. It held together well, with very little crumbling, and had a nice texture, fairly light for a meatloaf. The various seasonings stood out without any of them dominating.
I served the meatloaf with two sides I took from different sources. Rosemary and Chevre Mashed Potatoes was from the promotional issue of Cuisine at Home I received awhile back, while Honey-Glazed Carrots with Lemon and Thyme is from the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which I've been finding quite useful. Both turned out quite nice, and nicely complemented the meatloaf.
The Rosemary and Chevre Mashed Potatoes featured an interesting mix of flavorful ingredients - fresh rosemary, goat cheese, butter, pepper and salt, of course, but also buttermilk and lemon zest. They had a lot more flavor than the average mashed potatoes, and stood well on their own with no need for gravy or even additional seasonings. The Honey-Glazed Carrots were also outstanding. They simmered in a mixture of honey and chicken broth just long enough to cook through and pick up some seasoning without getting soggy, while lemon zest and juice and some more honey added off the heat added extra flavor and some thickness to the glaze. I only made half a batch of these, and regretted not making the full recipe, because Juli and I finished the carrots off and would have gladly eaten more if we'd had more.
The Italian Meatloaf and the two flavorful sides made for a very satisfying meal. I'm probably going to wait a few weeks before I make another meatloaf, as we have lots of meatloaf leftovers in the freezer now for lunches, but that will give me time to decide whether I want to do a mushroom loaf or a Greek loaf next. I'll definitely be making the mashed potatoes and the glazed carrots again, and probably soon. The ATK Family Cookbook includes several variants on the basic Glazed Carrots, and they all look great.
yield = 7-8 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons tomato paste, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
3/4 cup white wine
4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup milk
1 pound ground veal
1/2 pound 90% lean ground beef
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
2 large eggs
1/2 cup finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it starts to brown (about 7 minutes) then stir in garlic, two tablespoons of tomato paste and oregano. Cook 1 minute, then add white wine and cook until the pan is almost dry (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
Soak the bread pieces in milk for about 10 minutes, then mash into a paste. Add to large bowl with cooled onion mixture.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Prepare a broiler pan by lining the inside of the pan with foil and spraying the top rack with nonstick cooking spray.
Add the veal, beef, sausage, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, basil, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to the large bowl. Use hands to combine the ingredients without tightly packing the mixture.
Stir together tomato sauce, the rest of the tomato paste and brown sugar in a small bowl.
Transfer the meat mixture to a sheet of wax paper and shape it into a rectangle, approximately 12 x 4 inches. Brush top and sides of the meatloaf with the tomato mixture. Bake until a thermometer inserted in the center of the meatloaf registers 160 degrees (about 55 minutes). Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes, then transfer meatloaf to a cutting board and slice into individual servings.