SERVES 6 TO 8
This Italian Meatloaf is essentially an excellent recipe for meatballs and marinara without any of the hands-on fuss. We started with an intensely flavorful meatball mix—ground beef, Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and oregano—but instead of rolling dozens of meatballs, we just shaped one meatloaf. Mixing in a paste of crushed saltines, eggs, and milk ensured that the meatloaf held its shape and baked up tender and moist. We whipped together a bright, garlicky 5-minute tomato sauce, poured it over the meatloaf in a baking dish, and baked the two together, elevating and enriching both meatloaf and sauce in the process. For a next-level finishing touch, we topped the meatloaf with creamy melted fontina and a sprinkling of fresh basil.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon table salt
35 square saltines
¾ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. FOR THE SAUCE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper f lakes, and salt. Bring to simmer and cook until flavors have melded, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
2. FOR THE MEATLOAF: Spray broiler-safe 13 by 9-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Place saltines in large zipper-lock bag, seal bag, and crush saltines to fine crumbs with rolling pin. Whisk saltines, milk, and eggs together in large bowl. Let sit until saltines are softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk saltine mixture until smooth paste forms. Add beef, sausage, Parmesan, granulated garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.
3. Transfer beef mixture to prepared dish. Using your wet hands, shape into 9 by 5-inch rectangle; top should be flat and meatloaf should be 1½ inches thick. Pour sauce over meatloaf. Cover dish with aluminum foil and place on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until meatloaf registers 160 degrees, 1 hour 5 minutes to 1¼ hours.
4. Remove sheet from oven, uncover dish, and sprinkle meatloaf evenly with fontina. Heat broiler. Broil meatloaf until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes.
5. Using 2 spatulas, transfer meatloaf to cutting board. Spoon off any excess grease from tomato sauce. Slice meatloaf 1 inch thick. Transfer slices back to sauce in baking dish, sprinkle with basil, and serve.
Photo Credit: Cook’s Country
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