My early memories of meatloaf go back to when I was a child and my mother was in the hospital for about a week. During that time my father was in charge of cooking and preparing dinner for us. And almost every night we had meatloaf. There wasn’t anything my father didn’t throw into his meatloaf. He mixed in spinach, escarole, hard boiled eggs, pieces of left over chicken. What ever he had left over from a previous meal he would mix it into his meatloaf and serve it to us. It was terrible. He called it his surprise meatloaf. And each night when he served it I was scared to see what would come out of that hunk of beef while he was slicing it. Sort of like that episode of “Our Gang” when the Little Rascals were baking a cake with surprises in it. Only thing missing from the meatloaf was the hair brush and hot water bottle. But I could have sworn I heard that funny noise come out of the oven, “EEEH- WHAAAA!” while the meatloaf was baking.
My father was no chef by any stretch of the imagination. But he did what he had to do in order to feed himself and us kids. Now, my sister Annette was old enough to fix us supper, but that would have been a faith worse than death. I’m not exaggerating. And my older brother Richard? Let’s just say that Richard was as useless in the kitchen as my sister was. I’m not sure why my grandmother didn’t intervene. After all, she just lived upstairs from us. And she did come down to our apartment from time to time to check up on how things were going. I guess the act of clutching my throat when she came down while we were eating might have been too suttle for her. As long as my father had a piece of Italian bread with his meal he would eat anything. I guess it came from his days in the army during WWll when he served under General Patton. You ate whatever was available, and enjoyed it. I guess I learned from that experience what NOT to put in a meatloaf.
My inspiration for cooking came from my mother and grandmother who were wonderful cooks. And in spite of some harrowing experiences I had with meatloaf, it still is one of my favorite comfort foods. At least the versions my mother made. This meatloaf is extremely tasty and full of flavor. Not one ingredient over powers the other and they blend together to make a great “Italian style” meatloaf. I hope you enjoy it!
Meatloaf Italian Style
- 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck, 80% lean
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 slices of bread, soaked in water
- 3 dashes of worchestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 3/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
- 6-7 slices of mortadellla
- 7 -8 slices of slicing mozzarella or provelone cheese
Place the sun dried tomatoes in a microwave safe bowl and cover with red wine. Microwave on high for two minutes to soften the tomatoes. Allow to soak for 10 minutes. Drain and chop the tomatoes and set aside.
In a large frying pan saute onions, carrots and celery in 2 tablespoons of oil until vegetables are soft. Allow to cool.
In a large bowl place the ground chuck, cooked onions, carrots and celery,basil, ketchup, breadcrumbs, eggs, Worchestershire sauce, soaked bread with the excess water squeezed out, salt and pepper. Mix well.
On top of a piece of plastic wrap, as long as the roasting pan you are using, lay the meatloaf mixture out and flatten it as you spread it over the plastic wrap, making an oval shape covering most of the plastic wrap.
Place the sun dried tomatoes on top, next the slices of the mortadella. Next place slices of mozzarella on top of the mortadella. Leave about 1 inch of space around the meatloaf. At the end farthest from you leave about 2 inches of space. Starting on the long end closest to you, roll up the meatloaf like a jelly roll using the plastic wrap to help you lift and roll the mixture. Peel away the plastic wrap as you roll the meatloaf making sure the stuffing stays put. When you get to the end, make sure all the cheese and meat stuffing is covered by the chopped meat. If you have to, tuck in the filling and mold the meat over it.
Place the roll, with the help of the plastic wrap into the baking pan seam side down. Make sure the ends are sealed and shape into a loaf.
Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 1 hour or until the meatloaf browned and done.
Let meatloaf rest 15 minutes before you slice it.