Sailing on a yacht in the Bahamas, playing a round of tennis, taking a long nap, even doing laundry.....I can think of a million better things to do with my time rather than roll a batch of meatballs large enough to feed a family of 6.
So tonight I adapted my polpette recipe into a loaf. It's much easier on the hands (and the clock). My easy Italian meatloaf is another one of my family's favorites.
What sets this meatloaf apart from your typical recipe is the fact that we cook the garlic and onions before mixing it in the meat. Any cook knows that the flavor of raw garlic or onions vs. cooked garlic or onions is a world of difference. Another key factor is the marinara sauce instead of the typical ketchup. It's the difference between a glorified med-e-gone sloppy joe, and a hearty Italian loaf of, well, meatballs.
Give this recipe a try, modifying it to your liking. Maybe you have a polpette (meatball) recipe that you love. Adjust the ingredients accordingly, and mangia! I serve mine with a side of garlic mashed potatoes.
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 tbsp e.v.o.o.
1/2 lg. onion, minced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes.
1 cup breadcrumbs
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Italian seasoning (I often use 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, if I have it on hand)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup marinara sauce
Saute the onions in the olive oil for 2 - 3 minutes, add the garlic. Saute for another two minutes. Add the crushed pepper flakes*, continue cooking until the garlic and onions are lightly browned and soft. Set aside to cool.
Mix the beaten eggs, meat, cheese, bread crumbs, vinegar, and seasonings lightly. Fold in the cooled onion mixture. Form into a loaf on a cookie sheet (I prefer this method to a loaf pan) and top with marinara sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes and you've got yourself a tasty dinner (and probably some really bad breath)! BUON APPETITO!
*Adding the crushed red pepper flakes makes the meat mixture spicy. You may omit this step. I add it to the oil, rather than the meat, because the flavor seems to infuse the oil better, which brings out the heat (which I love!) Adjust it however you like.