Alice’s Italian Meatloaf and/or Meatballs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Inactive Prep Time — Meatballs only: 1 hr (60 minutes)
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Experience Level: Super Easy!
Serves: 4 adult servings
This recipe is based on the Italian meatloaf my dad used to make when I was growing up. My dad died at age 56 in 1983, shortly after I graduated from college. Even though he’s been gone for a long time, Dad was a wonderful cook and several of his signature dishes live on in both my home kitchen and catering business.
My dad based many of his Italian recipes from the food he ate during his childhood at his Aunt Mary’s home. (Aunt Mary was his mother’s only sister.) My Grandmother Alice and Great Aunt Mary were full-blooded, first-generation Irish Americans. Aunt Mary, in turn, married a full-blooded Italian American dentist, Dr. Humbert “Doc” Ghio.
Because my Grandmother Alice, Uncle Richard and my dad spent a lot of time with the Ghios – especially celebratory dinners – my dad picked up a lot of his cooking techniques from Aunt Mary and her mother-in-law, Grandma Ghio. And even though Uncle Doc and Grandma Ghio died before I was born, their Italian heritage influenced many of the dishes my father prepared in our home, along with the food I learned to love as a child.
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do.
Ø Hint: I like to add 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1 cup dry red wine to any commercial sauce. These three ingredients provide an over-the-top flavor! But you MUST cook the sauce if you add the wine — to remove the alcohol — otherwise the flavor becomes rancid and your meal will be ruined.
In a large bowl:
o Beat the two eggs, and then blend in the tomato paste until the tomato paste and eggs are thoroughly integrated.
o When the eggs and tomato paste are mixed, add the basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, onion and garlic.
o Mix in the ground beef and ground pork (or Italian sausage) — when mixing, be ensure the eggs, tomato paste and spices are thoroughly integrated into the entire meat mixture.
o Stir in the Parmesan and bleu cheeses.
o Add the peppers — I prefer the roasted red peppers because of their intense flavors
o Add the uncooked oatmeal — which helps to bind the meats and add some fiber to the dish — and mix thoroughly.
Meatloaf Cooking Directions:
o TIME SAVER: While you are mixing the meatloaf, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
o Using your hands, gently place the meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan — evenly distributing the mixture across the pan.
o If you so desire, place 4 uncooked bacon strips across the mixture. As the loaf cooks the bacon fat melts into the loaf and adds a terrific flavor.
o Place the loaf into the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes.
Ø The final cooking time will depend on the depth of your pan.
Ø You’ll know the loaf is cooked when it appears brown across the top and the loaf has slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan.
o Serve the meatloaf with your favorite pasta and salad. Leftover meatloaf also makes great sandwiches!
Meatball Cooking Directions:
o Using your hands, gently form the meat mixture into 16 or 20 slightly larger than golf ball-sized balls.
Ø GOAL: To have 4 or 5 meatballs per person.
Ø NOTE: Be gentle! Packing the meat mixture too tightly together will result in tough meatballs.
o Place each meatball on a cookie sheet.
o Place the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
o When you are ready to cook, get a large, nonstick skillet or frying pan, and heat half of the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Ø NOTE: Olive oil has a relatively LOW smoking point. If you crank up the heat, the oil and its contents will burn miserably!
o Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until they are well browned on all sides, about 6 minutes.
o Transfer the browned meatballs to a clean plate or bowl.
o Drain the oil and wipe out the skillet.
Ø NOTE: If you do not drain and wipe the skillet between cooking rounds, the leftover contents will burn and become nasty, and your meatballs will be ruined!
o Return the skillet to medium heat, and repeat with the remaining olive oil and meatballs.
o Drain and wipe out the skillet again.
o Return all the meatballs to the skillet and pour in the marinara sauce.
o Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer (covered), swirling the pan occasionally until the meatballs are cooked through — about 15 minutes.
Ø NOTE: The cheese in the meatballs will start to visibly melt when the meatballs are ready.
o Serve immediately over pasta or on sandwiches, or refrigerate/freeze for future use.
Ø If serving with pasta, toss the pasta with the meatballs and sauce.
Ø If you are not serving the meatballs right away, they can be stored (covered in the refrigerator) for up to 3 days, or frozen (in an air-tight bag/container) for up to 6 weeks.