So I had a dinner party tonight for eight people: my Grandma, her boyfriend John, my dad, Lisa, Chris, Sandy, Mikey and myself. I made this:
This meat loaf includes a delicious surprise: Cubes of mozzarella cheese are blended into the meat mixture, while shredded cheese is combined with bread crumbs and herbs to create a sublime topping. Your hands are the best tool for mixing the ground beef and other ingredients; be careful not to overmix, as the meat loaf can become too dense.
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 oz. dried wild mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup hot water,
chopped, soaking liquid reserved
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/4 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 Tbs. plus 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded, plus 6 oz., cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 lb. ground beef (80% lean)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
Mashed potatoes for serving (see related recipe at left)
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with 1 Tbs. of the oil.
In a deep sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the carrots, celery and onion and sauté until tender and starting to caramelize, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Let cool for 10 minutes.
In a bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the bread crumbs and 1/3 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid and soak for 5 minutes. In another bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup bread crumbs, the 1 Tbs. parsley, the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil, shredded cheese, salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, using your hands, gently mix together the ground beef, soaked bread crumbs, vegetable mixture, eggs, the 1/4 cup parsley, thyme, cubed cheese, salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and shape into a 10-by-5-inch loaf. Cover the top and sides of the meat loaf with the cheese-bread crumb mixture.
Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat loaf registers 165°F, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let the meat loaf rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with mashed potatoes. Serves 8.
I know that a lot of people don't like meatloaf, this might convert you... We also made rosemary red potatoes and homemade garlic bread. Dad and Lisa and Chris and Sandy brought up two bottles of wine (yay! and that means two more corks for this project), and a pecan pie. Dinner was scrumptious and the company was delightful.