It seems that everyone has a meatloaf recipe that has been passed down through generations; some are covered in ketchup with sad, limp green peppers strewn across the top while others go as far as being stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon. I’ve tried many, and in the end it seems that whatever path you choose to go down it ends up with one of two results. Either the loaf is dry and requires massive amounts of gravy to just get it down or its so grease laden you suffer from indigestion for the next day and a half. Well my friends suffer no more! This recipe just might knock you over; in fact it doesn’t even need said gravy. But in my house, and according to the boy, “it isn’t meatloaf without gravy!”
Before you embark on your meatloaf epiphany, there are a couple of key things to note before diving in. First off, please for the love of God or whomever you believe in use good quality beef! I recommend grass fed, organic for this recipe and any recipe where the star in the dish is the beef itself. The lower fat and the enhanced flavorings are so worth the extra dollar or two it may cost you. If not using organic then please use an 80/20 ground chuck. Second, do not put this in a loaf pan when cooking. That pan is going to seal in all those juices and while that may make it sound like it’s going to keep your loaf moist and yummy the end result ends up being way too greasy and heavy. And finally, use fresh herbs and not dried. Night and day people, night and day.
As you will note from the picture, I prefer my meatloaf in a more open faced presentation, toast up the bread, spread a thick layer of mashed potatoes over top, add a slice or two of the loaf and smother in gravy. However for those of you with much less primal desires…this goes beautifully served on a plate lightly dressed with said gravy along side some fresh streamed veggies. Enjoy!
Italian Style Meatloaf
Serves 4 - 5
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ red pepper, seeded and finely diced
½ sweet onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 pound ground beef, organic if available or 80/20 ground chuck
¾ cup breadcrumbs
1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 cup marinara sauce
Preheat your oven to 350°. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and sauté until peppers are soft and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove veggies from pan and place on a plate to cool. (Note - this step is vital! Don’t just toss the veggies in raw without taking the extra steps to cook them first. This ensures a moist meatloaf and enhances the flavors.)
When the onions and peppers are cool, combine all remaining ingredients together (except marinara) in a large bowl. Do not over mix! Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and cover with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Pack your meat mixture into a loaf shape and place on greased baking sheet. Cover the top of the loaf with the marinara sauce and toss into preheated oven. Cook for 50 minutes, remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Slice, serve and drool until you make it again!