Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Meatloaf Fit for Company

I know, I know, it sounds like a joke. Meatloaf, at least when we were growing up, was something cheap that would feed a family. My mom, though admittedly she would come home from a full day of work and actually cook, would throw one together with fatty hamburger, ketchup, an egg and some bread crumbs. Then she'd bake it in the oven until it resembled something you might find on the forest floor and wonder what it had been when it was alive.

The meat mix, ready to be loaded with fixin's.

It wasn't until I made one of the recipes in The New Basics Cookbook that I had my meatloaf epiphany. It didn't have to be a flavorless slab that resembled thick cardboard! It could be juicy and rich and delicious, something you actually look forward to having the next day in a sandwich. Like I said, a life-changing realization.

Layered with goodness.

So when my meat-loving friend Kathryn and her equally carnivorous husband were scheduled to come for dinner, it was the perfect excuse to make a meatloaf stuffed with prosciutto and spinach from Mario Batali that I'd seen on my brother's blog. It's definitely a "company" type of meal, though, since the prosciutto and cheese push it beyond our budget for weeknight meals.

Rolled and heading for the oven.

It has inspired some thought on how to make it fit into the Budget Cuts category, but until I work that out this will draw raves from your guests!

Meatloaf Stuffed with Prosciutto and Spinach

From Food and Wine: "This luxurious yet easy take on classic meat loaf gets stuffed with spinach, carrots, prosciutto and cheese. The vegetables can be leftovers, says Batali: 'Just make sure they're cooked long enough to be very soft—if they're al dente, the meatloaf will tear when you slice it and wreck your day.' Mild and tangy caciocavallo cheese, made in Italy from cow's milk, is excellent in the filling, but provolone is a fine substitute."

2 lg. carrots, each cut lengthwise into 6 slices
4 c. spinach (3 oz.), thick stems discarded
2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 lbs. ground pork
2 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs
2 c. freshly grated pecorino cheese (6 oz.)
6 lg. eggs, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
10 thin slices of prosciutto (4 oz.)
10 1/16"-thick slices caciocavallo or provolone cheese
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary
2 c. dry red wine
1 1/2 c. water

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the carrots until tender, 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Add the spinach to the boiling water and cook just until wilted; drain well and add to the carrots.

In a large bowl, combine the beef with the pork, 2 cups of the bread crumbs, the pecorino, eggs, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper; mix well with your hands.

Line a work surface with a 15-inch-long sheet of plastic wrap. In a bowl, mix the flour with the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs. Sprinkle half of the crumb mixture all over the plastic wrap. Transfer half of the meat loaf mixture to the plastic and press it into a 12-by-10-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Lay half of the spinach leaves over the meat, leaving a 1-inch border on the short sides. Arrange half of the carrots over the spinach, and top with half the prosciutto and sliced cheese. Starting from the long end of the plastic wrap closest to you, tightly roll up the meat loaf, tucking in the filling and using the plastic wrap to guide you; discard the plastic. Repeat with another 15-inch sheet of plastic and the remaining bread crumbs, meat mixture, spinach, carrots, prosciutto and cheese. Drizzle each meatloaf with 2 tablespoons of oil.

Put the rosemary sprigs in the bottom of a broiler pan and pour in the red wine. Cover with the broiler pan grate. Set the meat loaves about 2 inches apart on the grate. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes. Turn the broiler pan around and pour the water through the grate. Continue baking for about 35 minutes longer, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of each meatloaf registers 155°.

Transfer the meat loaves to a carving board and cover loosely with foil. Discard any cheese from the bottom of the pan and strain the pan juices into a small saucepan. Boil the pan juices over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour into a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper. Using a serrated knife, slice the meat loaves 1 inch thick and serve, passing the pan juices at the table.


Anonymous said...

Miss S. read your blog and made meatloaf last night. Delicious. Having it for lunch today.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Mmmmmmm...meatloaf sammies. Glad you liked it!