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 coworker. Everybody thought it was amazing and I just loved how she had elevated the mundane meatloaf to the epicurean realm.
Italian influences on the Detroit food scene
Starting in the late 1800s, waves of Italian immigrants were drawn to Detroit, and many other American cities. Several came from the island of Sicily in southern Italy, in search of a better life. Sicilian immigrants brought their rich cultural heritage, traditions, and culinary practices with them.
Their influence can still be seen in the area’s food culture. 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.
Italian-American Comfort Food
Few cultures have had more influence on American cuisine than the Italian. Italian Americans have adapted their traditional recipes to American ingredients and tastes. At the same time, non Italians have adopted many of these dishes. There’s pizza, pasta, sauces, and home cooking with fresh herbs, garlic and all those wonderful Italian cheeses.
Many of these dishes have become classics that you’ll find at pizzerias, trattorias or an old- school ristorante. But those that aren’t so commercially successful are made at home. The Involtini Siciliani or Braciole, also known as Sicilian meat roll, is one of those dishes.
Meat roll cooking tips
After you’ve gotten all of your ingrediants prepared, start by cracking an egg into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the seasonings, the onion, garlic and the tomato sauce until all are well blended. You can use regular tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, chili sauce, passata, or marinara. A good quality basil and garlic store-bought marinara really enhances this recipe. Next, mix in the fresh lean ground beef and bread crumbs 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 cheese over the flattned 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 left over 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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