Scusami! This is not your average meatloaf
This recipe was inspired by my friend Joan, who is a fantastic cook with an open mind. She worked in the Detroit-Windsor auto sector along with coworkers from a variety of ethnic groups and spoke fondly of how they would exchange recipes.
When Joan offered to make us dinner one day, she served what she called Italian Stuffed Meatloaf, a recipe she got from an Italian co-worker. Everybody thought it was amazing and I just loved how she had elevated the mundane meatloaf to the epicurean realm.
Italian influences on American Cuisine
Starting in the late 1800s, waves of Italian immigrants were drawn to major North American cities. Most came from southern Italy and the island of Sicily, in search for a better life. They brought their rich cultural heritage, traditions, and culinary practices with them. Generations of Italian Americans have adapted their traditional recipes to American ingredients and tastes into a distinct Italian-American cuisine. Many of these dishes have become classics that you’ll find at your local pizzeria or an old- school ristorante in Little Italy.
Today, the largest Little Italy in the Detroit area is on the Canadian side of the border in Windsor, Ontario. You’ll find some top-rated Italian restaurants and shops along Via Italia. This vibrant neighbourhood, concentrated along Erie Street in downtown Windsor, is popular with locals and visitors.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find Involtini Siciliani or Braciole on the menu. Those are the Italian names for Sicilian meat roll. However, this is a dish that’s easy to make at home. It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner and sure to please the whole family.
Meat roll cooking tips
After you’ve prepped all the ingredients, start by cracking an egg into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the seasonings, onion, garlic and a portion of the tomato sauce until all are well blended. You can use regular tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, passata, or marinara. A good quality, store-bought marinara really enhances this recipe. Next, mix in the fresh lean ground beef and breadcrumbs until all are well blended.
You’ll then pour the meat mixture onto a plastic cling wrap and shape into a rectangle about ½-inch thick. Spread the meat slices, then the cheese, over the flattened meat mixture. Just stay about an inch away from the edges. Start to roll it up with the aid of the plastic wrap to like a jelly roll. Tuck in the edges to prevent the melted cheese from leaking out during cooking. Form it into the shape of a loaf and place it on a broiler pan. You’ll want to add some water to the bottom of the pan to prevent the dripping grease from scorching.
You can make your own variation of the stuffing, using other Italian cheeses like Parmesan, Pecorino, and adding spinach or basil leaves. Refrigerate leftover meat roll and serve the next day as a cold appetizer as you would a pâté or terrine.
Sicilian Stuffed Meat Roll
- 1 egg
- 1 garlic clove finely minced
- ½ cup onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp onion soup mix
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp oregano
- ¾ cup tomato sauce separated
- ¼ tsp anise
- 1½ lbs lean ground beef
- ¼ tsp chili peppers crushed dired
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 2-3 slices cooked ham (proscuitto cotto)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In a large bowl, combine the egg, onion, garlic, seasonings and ¼ cup of the tomato sauce. Mix in the ground beef and breadcrumbs.
- Evenly roll out the mixture onto plastic wrap or wax paper making a ½ inch layer
- Make a second layer with the ham slices
- Spread out the cheese as the third layer
- Roll up the layers as a jelly roll with the help of the wrap/paper underneath
- Close the ends and form into a loaf shape
- Spray a broiler rack with non-stick spray then place loaf onto rack
- Coat the loaf with the remaining tomato sauce
- Add a little water to the bottom of the broiler tray
- Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes
- Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving
NutritionPer serving Calories: 348kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Iron: 23mg
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