I’m not much of a meat eater but I do like to make this (and my favorite burger) using organic grass-fed bison or beef, whenever I want something a bit more substantial. Non-meat eaters can substitute ground turkey.
This recipe includes one of my all-time favorite ingredients, dried porcini mushrooms – they add a deep, rich, earthiness and combined with fresh basil, tomatoes and authentic parmigiano reggiano cheese, the result is a wonderful meatloaf with enough delicious sauce to serve separately over pasta, Italian style.
The meatloaf is very easy to prepare and if you can bear not to eat it right away it tastes even better the following day; covered and heated through in a moderate oven.
Serve it with a green vegetable and some of the sauce; then pass around some pasta with the remaining sauce and plenty of freshly grated parmigiano.
Use organic ingredients where possible. Dried porcini are available in good supermarkets like Wholefood’s or Italian delicatessens; unless you’re like me and prefer to forage for your own, which is much more satisfying. Note: please study fungi before embarking on such an adventure as I don’t want to be held responsible for any of your mistakes.
Adapted from an Antonio Carluccio recipe.
MY FAVORITE ITALIAN MEATLOAF with PORCINI, BASIL & TOMATOES
1 lb (454g) of organic ground bison or lean beef
½ oz (14g) of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 8 fl oz (237ml) of hot water
1 oz / 1/3 cup (28g) of fresh homemade breadcrumbs
½ oz / 1/4 cup (14g) of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
A good handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
Two 14.5 oz (411g) cans of Italian plum tomatoes including their juice, chopped
Extra-v olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra grated parmigiano reggiano to serve
Optional: enough freshly cooked pasta to serve with the sauce at the same time or as a separate course, immediately after the meatloaf
Pre-heat the oven to 350F (180C)
Combine the ground meat, egg, breadcrumbs and grated parmigiano cheese with your hands or a fork – season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and once everything is thoroughly blended, form it into a compact loaf shape.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a wide pan and brown the meatloaf, turning it very carefully. Transfer it to a deep baking dish so that it fits quite snugly but there’s still enough room for the sauce ingredients.
Pour in the chopped canned tomatoes and their juice, the torn basil leaves and the soaked porcini mushrooms along with their soaking liquid. It should just cover the meatloaf. Give everything a good grind of sea salt and fresh black pepper.
Cover with a lid or heavy duty foil and bake in the oven for 60 minutes. Remove the lid and give it another 20 minutes or so to reduce the sauce slightly.
Either slice the meatloaf and divide it between individual serving dishes with a little sauce and your favorite green vegetable, or put the whole thing on a large platter with some of the sauce and a sprinkle of fresh parsley – serve a steaming bowl of freshly cooked pasta separately, with the remaining sauce poured over the top and plenty of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese to go around.