Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ricotta-Mozzarella Meatloaf

"And so," she asked herself in the reflection of the stock pot.  "What is it you truly love about cooking?"

With a wooden spoon to serve as her microphone, she answered herself with a decisive nod of her head: "Everything."

"Everything?"  her interviewer questioned incredulously.  "Even the dirty dishes and the long hours and the overflowing compost and recycling bins?"

 "Yes.  Even that.  I enjoy it all."

As her eyebrows shot up, the interviewer asked, "Is it possible that you may be a little bit...nuts?"

"Perhaps," she responded.  "But I love to create pretty things.  Food is my art.  It's the nourishing beauty I offer daily to my family."

"Some days the children love what I create; other days, they gag and wretch.  But my desire to keep offering it never wanes."

She continued, "And while other things in my home "suffer" for the time I have chosen to spend in the kitchen, hopefully the children won't remember the moldy showers or the wrinkled laundry when they are grown."

 "I hope they will remember that it was my great joy to serve them."

Printable Recipe

This meatloaf is wonderfully out of the ordinary.  Melty squares of mozzarella jazz up the otherwise routine dish.  Substitute Italian sausage for part of the ground beef, if desired.  The meatloaf also works well with ground turkey:  just keep the meatloaf "tented" with the foil for longer and baste with olive oil every 15 minutes so that it won't dry out while baking.

For easy clean-up, please follow the photo steps above to create a baking surface for the meatloaf. 

Ricotta-Mozzarella Meatloaf
(Serves 6)

1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups day-old bread cubes
2 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste 
1 1/2 pounds ground beef 
1 cup mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups warm tomato sauce (homemade or your favorite jarred sauce)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  
As demonstrated in the photos above, treat yourself to easy clean up by doing the following:  1) line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Place a metal cooling rack inside the baking sheet.  Line the metal cooling rack with parchment paper; cut a few slits inside the parchment paper so the grease from the baking meatloaf can drip through to the foil-lined baking sheet.  Set baking assembly aside.

In a large bowl, pour the milk over the bread cubes and allow to soak for a few minutes until the bread is saturated. Squeeze the saturated bread, a handful at a time, pressing out as much milk as possible back into the bowl.  Crumble the wet bread back into the bowl.  Immediately add the beaten eggs, ricotta, green onions, grated cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the bowl.  Mix well with a wooden spoon.  Add the ground beef and continue mixing (you may have to use your hands at this point).  Be careful not to over-mix, however, because the texture of the final product will become less desirable.

Add the mozzarella cubes and work them through the meat mixture until evenly distributed. 

(Once the mozzarella has been added, the mixture can be refrigerated until you're ready to bake the meatloaf.)

Brush the parchment-lined cooling rack with olive oil.  Shape the meat mixture into an oval loaf and lay it on the rack.  Brush the loaf with olive oil.  Make a "tent" of foil over the loaf, but ensure the foil doesn't touch it (this will keep the loaf from drying out).  Bake for 45-50 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes.  (If you are concerned about doneness, use a meat thermometer to ensure the center of the loaf has reached 170 degrees.)
Remove the meatloaf from the oven and cover again with foil, allowing the loaf to rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.  (This makes it much easier to slice.)
Slice the loaf thickly and top with the warm tomato sauce.  Garnish with a bit of chopped parsley, if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from Framed Cooks


Tracy said...

I love the idea of wrapping the baking rack in parchment paper. Thanks.

Elle D said...

This was llovely to read