Rockin’ Italian-Style Meatloaf

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.

Preheat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon or two of extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and garlic and saute until translucent and fragrant.

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.

Remember that buttermilk? And the panko bread crumbs?

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.

While the buttermilk is soaking into the bread crumbs, gently mix together the ground beef and ground pork.

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.

Reserve about 1/2 cup of the glaze and then brush the meatloaf with some of the glaze.

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.


  1. My dad makes something fairly similar to this but its stuffed with mozzarella cheese….when you cut through it you get ooey gooey yumminess in every bite….faaaannnntastic! LOVE this site!

  2. Thanks for posting this recipe! I’ve been meaning to look up whether or not it was available somewhere. The judges just raved about it! I can’t wait to try it in the fall when I can leave my oven on for longer than 5 minutes without overheating!

  3. LOVE FN Star! Who were you rooting for? Sandwich king all the way for me and my husband. Loved his personality and I sure love sandwiches!

    1. Sandwich King for me, too! Did you see the “behind the scenes” episode? Usually those are so lame, but I thought this one was fascinating. I loved seeing a subtler side of his sense of humor, especially when Penny was concerned. And his impression of Alisha. I did think Orchid went home WAY too soon, and I liked Vic and Susie, but I would never have made Susie’s food; it definitely wasn’t practical for a home cook (pork deep fried in lard? Cactus salad? Where do I even buy cactus?) Plus her personal stories were grating on me.

  4. I love the Amazing Race as well! Do you ever watch Chopped? Thanks for this recipe. I have some ground beef in the freezer and now I know what to make with it. Thanks again!

  5. So since I’ve started making your recipes every day and making my husband oh so happy, I’ve constantly been needing buttermilk. While it isn’t way expensive, it is compared to regular milk. So my dad experimented and found out how to make my own buttermilk. Pour a little buttermilk in a jar, top off with milk and let set out for 24 hours. Use it up, add more milk and leave out again. Just don’t wash your jar out and loose your buttermilk starter. Its so awesome and easy. I always have a quart and use it almost every day! Thanks for the fabulous recipes!

    1. Stacey, can you clarify this a little bit? How much buttermilk to start with, how much milk do you top it off with, and after you leave it out for 24 hours do you then refrigerate it? Do you ever refrigerate it or is it always on the counter? When you use it up, can you use all of it or do you need to leave more than just what is coating the jar to start up the next batch?
      Kate, my daughter adores meatloaf. I’ll make sure she tries this! I’ll be trying it too, as soon as it isn’t too hot to turn on the oven 🙂

      1. You can also make buttermilk by adding 1 Tblsp of lemon juice to each cup of milk. If you need less than that, remember there are 3 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon, and then bust out your math skills you never thought you would use.

  6. This sounds amazing!!!! Also, not that it REALLY matters, but Guy didn’t win season 1. A gay couple (Dan Smith & Steve McDonagh) won (source: This to me was not fair because it was a team and not an individual like all the others. How is it fair that one “contestant” gets a perpetual sous chef? Any way, I digress… My wife and I are big followers of this site (we bought 2 books when they launched, one for us and one as a future gift). I have a strong feeling that this will be be made in our home soon 😉

  7. I have never been a huge meatloaf fan, but my husband and son love it (as in LOVE it), so I’m always looking for a recipe I might like as well. I think this might be it! Looks fabulous; we’ll definitely be trying it soon!

  8. How did I never know you watched next FN Star? So many little things we could have wasted time discussing after each episode! I have totally wanted to try Mary Beth’s meatloaf ever since that episode- I’m so glad you posted this, it looks delish (which, let’s face it, is kind of amazing for meatloaf!)

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