I myself like to put eggs on things.
I also like to put eggs in things. Like meatloaf. Especially meatloaf, because ~ let’s face it ~ even if you were to make it with Kobe beef, meatloaf is meatloaf. Eggs, on the other hand, elevate every food they’re associated with ~ literally and figuratively (soufflé, meringues, zabaglione and, well, meatloaf).
Stuffing meat (either ground or rolled-and-tied roasts) with hard-boiled eggs is nothing new; it’s a classic Italian preparation, a way of dressing up something simple. As a regular practice it seems to have fallen by the wayside, maybe because it involves an extra step or two (cooking the eggs, stuffing the meatloaf), or possibly because it’s been deemed too rich.
And yet, there’s something festive about slicing into meatloaf on a weeknight and seeing that sunny yolk. (And with Easter just past, chances are you already have the hard-boiled eggs in your fridge, just waiting for their opportunity to elevate something.)
Of course, where there are eggs there must also be bacon, right? Not too much, just one slice on top to add an extra layer of flavor. You could also use thinly sliced pancetta.
I told him I had it covered.
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This meatloaf is one of those great old classic Italian recipes worth rescuing from obscurity. I've updated it by substituting turkey for beef, which lightens it just a bit. It's easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner but pretty enough (and delicious enough) to serve to company. This is one of my favorite dishes to serve in early spring, when evenings are still chilly. Serve with fresh, in-season asparagus.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small rib celery, finely chopped
- 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/2 cups (3 ounces) fresh bread crumbs (see Note)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk or half-and-half
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 raw egg, lightly beaten
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- 1 slice bacon or 3 to 4 thin slices rolled pancetta
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion and parsley and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk and let sit 5 minutes. Add the pork, turkey, garlic, cheeses and sautéed vegetables and mix until combined. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Add the beaten egg and mix everything together thoroughly.
Lay a large piece of wax paper (about 12-by-16 inches) on clean work surface and scoop the meatloaf mixture onto it. Using a spatula or your hands, pat the mixture into a rectangle about 9-10 inches long and 4-5 inches wide. Arrange the hard-boiled eggs lengthwise in the center of the rectangle. Use the wax paper to lift up the sides of the meat mixture to cover the eggs, and then, with your hands, finish patting it into an oval-shaped loaf. Make sure the eggs are completely covered by the meat mixture. Top the meatloaf with 1 slice of bacon or 3 to 4 thinly sliced rolled slices of pancetta.
Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to fit the meatloaf. Carefully transfer the meatloaf to the baking dish and pour in the wine. Bake, basting every 15 minutes or so ,until the meatloaf is cooked through and thoroughly browned on top, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should register 160 degrees F. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
To serve, slice thickly and arrange the slices on a platter. Spoon the pan juices over and serve. Leftovers make a great sandwich.
NOTE To make fresh bread crumbs, remove the crusts from a chunk of day-old sturdy Italian or peasant bread. Break it into large pieces and pulse it in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until reduced to coarse crumbs.