Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lidia's Meatloaf with Ricotta


I almost titled this post "Yum." I guess I think that title applies to most everything I post here, but when meatloaf, the ultimate comfort food, rises to the level that Lidia raised it. Oh, "yum."

Think moist, cheesy, tender, tasty. I never knew meatloaf could be so good. It could be that we were just really hungry, and maybe that meat tasted especially good on a Friday, but for meatloaf, it was purty, darned good. The recipe makes a lot, though, so halve the recipe or share (I took a whole meatloaf to the neighbors, much to their delight). I split the meatloaf mixture and baked it in two 13 x 9 pans (shaped into loaves) to speed up the baking and make it easier to share. I also omitted the nutmeg because my husband does not care for it in savory dishes.

Sorry, not a good photo -- It looks like meatballs, which is really what it tastes like.

Lidia's Ricotta Meatloaf
serves about 12

Printer version

1 cup milk
3 cups day-old bread
3 pounds ground beef
3 large eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 pound drained fresh ricotta (about 2 cups), plus more for the sauce if you like (my ricotta was pretty dry, so did not need to be drained -- I used low-fat)
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
½ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano- Reggiano (I used Parmesan-Romano)
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I omitted)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ pound fresh mozzarella, cut in ½- inch cubes (about 2 cups)
¼ cup extra- virgin olive oil
4 to 5 cups tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 375º. Pour the milk over the bread cubes in a bowl, and let soak for a few minutes, until the bread is saturated.
Squeeze the soft bread a handful at a time, pressing out as much milk as you can (discard milk, or give it to a pet), then tear bread into small shreds and toss back into the bowl. Crumble the ground beef into the bowl, and add the eggs, ricotta, scallions, grated cheese, parsley, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Fold and toss everything together, and squeeze the mixture a few times between your fingers to distribute all the ingredients evenly. Scatter the mozzarella cubes on top, and fold and mush them throughout the loaf mix.
Brush the roasting pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or two pans if you plan to split the meat) . Gather the meat mixture in the bowl, turn it into the pan, and shape it into a fat oval loaf. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover the pan with foil—tent it so it doesn’t touch the meat—and bake 45 minutes.* Remove the foil, and continue to bake until the meatloaf is browned all over and completely cooked through, another 1 hour and 30 minutes or so. (If you check the loaf with a meat thermometer, it should reach a temperature of 160º.) Remove the roast from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Heat the tomato sauce to a simmer in a saucepan as the meat rests. Turn off the heat, and, if you like, stir ½ cup or so fresh ricotta into the sauce. Cut the loaf crosswise in the pan or on a cutting board, in slices as thick as you like. Serve on warm dinner plates, topped with a spoonful or two of sauce, and pass more sauce at the table (or, for family- style serving, arrange the slices on a warm platter, topped with some of the sauce).
* To split the meat and bake two loaves, bake tented for 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake for 40 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F.


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