Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Meatloaf with ricotta

I came across this recipe on The Early Show - I love their recipes - and made it for dinner the other night. There were 8 adults and 5 children eating; there was a small piece left over for me to enjoy yesterday for lunch. It goes a long way and is delicious!

MEATLOAF WITH RICOTTA -- Polpettone di Manzo con Ricotta
Serves 8 or more

1 cup milk
3 cups day-old bread cubes, from a loaf of country 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
1 bunch scallions, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 3.4 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 5 cups Tomato Sauce

Recommended equipment: A sturdy roasting pan, 10 by 17 inches or larger

Preheat oven to 375 degrees 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 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. 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 1/2 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 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).

Note: If you love fresh ricotta, as I do, you can stir some into the tomato sauce, too, just before serving the meatloaf.

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