My friend Amy mocked me the other day because I told her that the saddest time of year is between the time The Next Food Network Star ends and the fall programming begins. Obviously I’m joking; that is not the saddest time of year–the saddest time of year is swimsuit shopping season.
The Food Network Star and I have an interesting relationship for a lot of reasons. First, I watch that show with rabid intensity–I have this whole Sunday night thing where, after the kids are in bed, I fold laundry and watch the show all by myself (I actually do the same thing with The Amazing Race during the rest of the year, but The Amazing Race is not exactly pertinent to this post). Second, I have absolutely no desire to be contestants on that show. Third, and perhaps the most strange, although I look forward to the show all week, I’ve never actually watched any of the winners’ shows (with the exception of the occasional episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but I also didn’t watch the first season of The Next Food Network Star when Guy Fieri won).
This most recent season seemed particularly heavy on the drama and cat-fighting, which made it both more enticing and guilty pleasure-ish. And at the heart of so much of the drama were Penny and Mary Beth.
Mary Beth and Penny talking it out with a clearly uncomfortable man-child between them.
There were a few recipes from this past season that I was dying to try and this one was at the top of my list, so much so that I used my mad Internet stalking skills to track down this recipe because it wasn’t on The Food Network’s site.
Sara recently posted an awesome Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf and while there are some similarities, this one definitely has kind of an Italian vibe going for it while the other one has, well, bacon. My son who only likes ground beef in our Italian Meatballs lo-o-oves this recipe. Like…I’ve made it twice in the last month (and two of those weeks have been without a kitchen) because he loves it that much. And because I needed to take pictures of it, but that’s beside the point.
You’ll start out by making a glaze–Mary Beth’s recipe calls for brown sugar, ketchup, and your favorite barbecue sauce, but I felt like it needed a little more tang to offset the spicy sweetness, so I added in a tablespoon of Creole mustard (although I think probably any mustard would work).
Whisk together the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, pull together the ingredients you’ll need for the meatloaf: ground beef (in the neighborhood of 85% lean–if it’s too fatty, it’ll be greasy, but if it’s too lean, it will be dry), ground pork, panko bread crumbs, fresh parsley, minced garlic, chopped onions, tomato paste, fresh basil, shredded Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and buttermilk. Yep. Buttermilk. Don’t question it, just run with it–I promise, you won’t regret it.
When the onions are ready, add the tomato paste, chopped basil, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute or until the ingredients are well-combined. Remove from heat.
Combine them in a bowl together, kind of like a really weird bowl of cereal. Let them stand for a few minutes (like an even weirder bowl of cereal) or until the buttermilk is soaked into the bread crumbs.
Add the Parmesan cheese, onion mixture, and the buttermilk-soaked breadcrumbs to the beef/pork mixture and gently combine with your hands. Shape a free-form loaf onto an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Bake for 50 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 165 F. While the meatloaf is cooking, baste it every 10 minutes with the sauce from the pan (not the reserved sauce–that’s for dipping and meatloaf sandwiches).
When the meatloaf is done, remove it from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Serve with a green salad and your favorite potatoes (like these, these, or these). Serve them the next day on thick slices of white bread or big, strong hoagie rolls and some of that extra sauce. You’ll thank me, I promise.
Rockin’ Italian-Inspired Meatloaf
Recipe adapted by Our Best Bites from Mary Beth Albright
1 c. ketchup
1 c. barbecue sauce (I love Cattleman’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Creole (or other favorite) mustard
1 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small minced onion
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 c. fresh parsley
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 lb. ground beef (in the 80-85% lean ballpark)
1/2 lb. ground pork (lean, if you can find it, and even lean ground pork isn’t particularly lean unless you grind a lean cut yourself)
1 c. shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
Combine the ketchup, barbecue sauce, mustard, and brown sugar in a small saucepan and heat over low, stirring occasionally.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent and fragrant. Add the tomato paste, chopped basil, chopped parsley, and salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and set aside.
Combine the panko and buttermilk and set aside for about 5 minutes.
Gently combine the ground beef and ground pork. Add the cooled herb/tomato paste mixture, Parmesan cheese, and panko/buttermilk mixture and gently combine with your hands.
Shape the mixture into a free-form loaf on the prepared baking sheet. Reserve 1/2 c. of the glaze and set it aside. Brush with a coating of the glaze from the pan, then place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until an internal thermometer reaches 165 degrees. While the meatloaf is cooking, generously brush it every 10 minutes with the glaze from the pan (not the reserved glaze).
When the meatloaf is done, allow it to stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the reserved sauce, a green salad, and potatoes. Leftovers are amazing, especially between slices of hearty white bread or on a hoagie roll.
Freezer instructions: Prepare meatloaf through shaping it. Place it on a lined baking sheet and freeze, then remove from oven and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze the reserved sauce separately.
When ready to bake, remove from foil and plastic wrap and place on a lined baking sheet. Thaw reserved sauce. Bake at 425 for 90 minutes or until an internal thermometer reads 165. Baste with the reserved sauce every 10 minutes for the last 45 minutes of baking.