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Italian Meatloaf, Take 2

Getting sick over the entire Christmas holiday is never fun, is it? When you are a food blogger, it's kind of your biggest holiday to showcase all kinds of great foods and fancy pants desserts but nooooooo, not for this kid. We did have a lovely Christmas eve party but I didn't really cook anything. We had mostly charcuterie stuff, cheese and cookies. Oh and waaaaaay too much prosecco but since the prosecco led to the spirited singing of caroles via some youtube karaoke videos, we don't regret the prosecco. Okay, maybe I regretted it a teeny, tiny bit on Christmas morning but not really.

We enjoyed lovely turkey dinner with family and they cooked us dinner, so again, nothing to share. Then I woke up on boxing day with the plague and I am just feeling human again today, more than an entire week later. That means that there was no NYE, no New Years Day feast, no parties.
Nothing. If you would like I can tell you all about the Habitant Chicken Soup I enjoyed and various ways to eat buttered toast while I rhapsodize about our new favourite green tea that The Kid kindly brewed for me day in and out.

Yesterday, Shack finally started to feel the scratch at the back of his throat and he woke up this morning all stuffed up and I fear that I have passed the plague on to him. If that is the case, the least I can do is provide him with a last supper full of comfort before he takes to his bed for the next 8 days doing nothing more than blowing, coughing, whinging and moaning. I know how sick I was with this dreaded disease so I can only imagine what the mansick version is going to look like.

Anyway, when I mentioned the possibility of meatloaf, he almost yelped. I threw in pancetta, mashed potatoes and marinara and he skipped out the door to enjoy his last day of decent health, hopped up on tylenol for colds but knowing that a delicious meal would be waiting for him when he gets home.

I now make this italian meatloaf fairly often but wanted to change it up a bit so I switched out the celery and carrot for fennel and red pepper and the basil pesto for the tomato based sicilian pesto with great success. It's a nice change and I might even prefer it to be honest but the boys were too busy stuffing their faces to commit one way or the other.

If he really is going to get sick, maybe I should have someone making ME a sympathy dinner, now that I think about it.

Italian Meatloaf Take 2
makes 2 meatloaves serving 6-8

2 tbls olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped fennel, small dice
1/2 cup red pepper chopped, small dice
1 large clove garlic, chopped
approx 2 tbls fresh oregano, chopped
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 - for me it was about 1 1/2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread (whiz them up in the food processor)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
3 tbls sicilian pesto
80g thinly sliced pancetta

In a large skillet cook the onion, fennel, red pepper and garlic 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 red onion, diced
about a couple tbls finely chopped fennel (basically one of the little stalks with a few fronds attached)
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
kosher salt and pepper to taste
fresh oregano chopped

heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over med heat and cook the onions, fennel and garlic for about 10 minutes, until softened but not browning. Add the tomato puree. Let the tomatoes come to a light boil and simmer for about half an hour, tasting and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Throw in the oregano for the last ten minutes of cooking. After the 30 minutes, take it off the heat and set aside, keeping it warm.

To serve, slice the meatloaf and drizzle with some of the tomato sauce.

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