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Italian Meatloaf

My guys love meatloaf and they are really open to all the different kinds of meatloaf I make. We have done a turkey meatloaf that had all the flavours of thanksgiving dinner that was a huge hit. Then there is The Kid's very favourite meatloaf that has lots of bbq sauce that I change up a little bit every time I make it but as long as there is bbq sauce in there, he is always happy. I make meatloaf with ground chicken, turkey, beef, veal, pork and combinations of all of those meats. 

For this particular dinner, I had the idea to make an italian meatloaf covered in pancetta and stuffed with provolone and went to the grocery store for my beef/pork/veal only to find they were out of ground pork. I was going to buy pork chops and grind it up myself when I spied the italian sausage and thought "why not?"

Shack uses italian sausages in his meat sauce, sometimes mixing it with ground beef, sometimes on it's own. In theory, it should work really well and add a ton of extra flavour. If this were only for Shack and I , I would have used spicy italian sausages so if you like food with some kick, do that.
The sausage was going to be pretty fatty, not to mention the pancetta that I draped over the top, so I cooked them sitting on a grill so all that excess fat could drip off and not leave it sitting in an inch of grease. I decided to leave out the cheese for the same reasons - the last thing you need when you are eating a big slice of meat and sausage is gooey cheese. Okay, maybe you would love that but I like my arteries the way they are so I do try to keep things on the healthy side. I know that sounds ridiculous as I am sharing a recipe for meatloaf that has a pound of sausage in covered in bacon but I have to draw the line somewhere and my line in the sand for this dish was cheese.

The only changes I would make would be to use the spicy sausage and I might even use more pesto next time because the pesto flavour was really subtle and I do like pesto.

Italian Meatloaf
makes 2 meatloaves serving 6-8

2 tbls olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, small dice
1 carrot, small dice
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 tbls oregano
good pinch kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup tomato puree
1 lb ground beef
1 lb mild italian sausage
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
3 tbls pesto
80g thinly sliced pancetta

In a large skillet cook the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and chives in the oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add in the salt, pepper, worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and oregano. Cook for another minute or so, remove the pan from the heat and set aside until it cools to room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350F

In a big bowl, combine the ground beef, sausage that has been removed from the casings and broken up, eggs, veggies, bread crumbs, parsley, cheese and pesto. I like to taste the mixture before I shape the loaves so you can do that by frying a small disk of the mixture or cooking it for a minute in the microwave. That way you can adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Drape the thinly sliced pancetta all over the top of the meatloaf.

Form into two  free form loaves and put in on a baking rack over a foil lined baking tray.

Bake it in the oven for 1 hour or until the internal temperature is about 160F.

marinara sauce:

about 3 tbls olive oil
2 clove garlic
1/2 onion, diced
1 28oz can plum tomatoes
kosher salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil

heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over med heat and cook the onions and garlic for about 10 minutes, until softened but not browning. Add the plum tomatoes, squishing them through your fingers as you add them from the can OR you can puree them with an immersion blender or something. It depends on whether you want your sauce very smooth or like a bit of tomato texture. Let the tomatoes come to a light boil and simmer for about half an hour, tasting and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Take the pot off the heat and add a handful of fresh basil at the very last minute before you are ready to serve it.

To serve, slice the meatloaf and drizzle with some of the tomato sauce. I tossed the rest of the sauce with some pasta and served that along side the meatloaf to make Shack happy. This one was a resounding success and made excellent sandwiches with some provolone the next day so the cheese found it's way in there eventually.

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