I shouldn’t really call this “My Favorite Meatloaf,” as it changes depending on what I have in my fridge. A more fitting name would be, “My Favorite Way of Making Meatloaf.”
Start with three or four kinds of ground meat, which you can substitute as you wish—ground beef, turkey, veal, pork, and sausage all work great. Then, add eggs, an essential binder; breadcrumbs or cubed bread soaked in milk, which work as a filler; and some sort of vegetable—celery, peppers, onions, or mushrooms. Fresh herbs and seasonings are also essential, as is bacon for wrapping the meatloaf. Within this framework, feel free to substitute, change ingredients around, and experiment as you wish!
This recipe makes two loaves. If you aren’t serving that many people, note that it freezes beautifully; wrap the loaf first in aluminum foil and then in saran wrap.
Serves 10 to 12
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium to large onion, finely diced
- 3 celery stalks, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 slices day-old bread, cubed
- 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce, divided
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 pounds ground beef (chuck or round)
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 8 ounces bacon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the onions, celery, and garlic until soft. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the bread, 1 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, and milk until the bread has absorbed the liquids and is soft. Add the parsley and cheese and mix well. Add the meats, onion mixture, and eggs, and season with salt and pepper. With your fingers, mix well just until it becomes all of an even color. This is a bit messy, so roll up your sleeves and go for it. Remember to take your rings off and don’t overdo the mixing!
In a deep baking dish, shape the meat mixture into a loaf. Arrange the bacon slices on top on a diagonal, and tuck the ends underneath to hold its shape while cooking. Pour the remaining 1 cup tomato sauce on top and bake for 1 hour.
Drain some of the liquid from the pans and return to the oven for 30 to 40 minutes more. Let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Serve hot.