Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mozzarella Stuffed Italian Meatloaf

My Grandma once told me that she made the best meatloaf ever many years ago.  She said that she put a whole ball of mozzarella cheese inside of it.  And that was like someone turning on a light bulb for me.  I was in awe of the idea.  Immediately my wheels started a turning.  I asked her how she seasoned it and what did she put on top of it.  And, notoriously as always, she could not recall.  So, that left me to wonder how I was going to pull it off.  I did not want to add in any sweet peppers or onion, it would be too much like pizza or spaghetti to me.  I also knew that I did not want to use any kind of a BBQ or ketchup sauce on top, those flavors would not mesh well with the cheese.  But rather more of a tomato sauce was what I needed.  I also still needed it to accompany some mashed potatoes, because there's just no other way to serve meatloaf than on top of a mountain of creamy mashed potatoes, so I needed to improvise.  And this is what I came up with. 

2 lbs. of 80/20 ground beef
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup of bread crumbs
2 tsp. of Italian seasoning
a slight 1/3 cup of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
sea salt/ fresh cracked pepper
1- 14 1/2oz. can of diced tomatoes (divided)
1- 8oz. ball of fresh mozzarella cheese (cut into 6 equal slices)

-Preheat oven to 375*.  In a large mixing bowl knead together the beef, eggs, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, parsley, salt/ pepper and 4 T. of the juice from the can of diced tomatoes.  Go ahead and use your hands, it's the only way to really combine it thoroughly.  Take 1/2 of the meat and press it into the bottom of a loaf pan.  Lay the sliced mozzarella over the bottom layer; press remaining meat over the top.  Spread the diced tomatoes and the small amount of juice that's left over the meatloaf.  Cover a small baking pan with aluminum foil and place the loaf pan on that prior to baking it off (just in case it overflows!).  Bake for 2 hours or until the center is done; allow to set and cool for about 10 minutes before you slice it.  Serve with my Homemade Mashed Potatoes and some steamed veggies.  Serves 6.  Enjoy!

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