Note: If you plan on having extra meatloaf to enjoy the next day or if you plan on freezing the meatloaf, omit the mozzarella, because the cubes harden and won't melt again. In this case, use an additional cup of ricotta in the loaf mix.
Serves 8 or more
- 1 cup milk
- 3 cups day-old bread cubes from a loaf of country bread
- 3 pounds ground beef (freshly ground preferred)
- 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
- 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 to 5 cups (use your favorite recipe, or try this Simple Tomato Sauce)
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
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 the milk). Tear the bread into small shreds, and toss back into the empty 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. Gather the meat mixture in the bowl, turn it into the pan, and shape it into a fat oval loaf the shape of a loaf of country bread. 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 1/2 hours or so. (If you check the loaf with a meat thermometer, it should reach a temperature of 160 degrees.) Remove the loaf from the oven, and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Heat the tomato sauce to a simmer in a saucepan while the meat rests. Turn off the heat, and, if you like, stir 1/2 cup or so fresh ricotta into the sauce. Cut the loaf crosswise in the pan or on a cutting board, into 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).
Excerpted from Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Bastianich. Copyright © 2012 by Tutti a Tavola, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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