It was with this meatloaf that I got my son, Patrick, to eat something other than chicken tenders. My mother used to make it for me when I was his age. The four different meats—veal, lamb, beef, and pork—are kept separate and layered in the pan so when the meatloaf is cooked, it’s like the meat version of an Italian rainbow cookie. For years I struggled with what to do with the grease that rendered from the meat as it cooked and that ended up in the bottom of my meatloaf pan.
When I asked my mother about this, she told me about something called a perforated meatloaf pan. She bought one thirty years ago and has been using the same one ever since. The perforated part rests inside the pan, leaving space between it and the pan so the grease has a place to drip into when the meatloaf is done, and you just lift out the perforated part and the grease stays in the pan. It’s brilliant. Use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, preferably perforated, to make this. From Meat: Everything You Needed to Know.
Makes 8 servings
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely chopped yellow onion (about 2 medium)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces; not fresh mozzarella)
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 pound chopped (ground) beef
1 pound chopped (ground) pork
1 pound chopped (ground) lamb
1 pound chopped (ground) veal
½ cup Italian-Style Breadcrumbs
4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons paprika
¾ cup Tomato Sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it slides easily in the pan, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is tender and light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the mozzarella, pecorino, and parsley.
4. Put each meat—the beef, pork, lamb, and veal—in a separate bowl. To each bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of the salt, ½ teaspoon of the pepper, and 1 egg. Divide the onion and garlic evenly among the bowls. Add 1 teaspoon of paprika each to the bowls with the beef and lamb. Use your hands to gently combine each meat with the other ingredients, working it just enough to combine.
5. Put the beef into the loaf pan and pat it down with a rubber spatula to create a flat, even surface. Sprinkle one-third of the parsley-cheese mixture over the beef. Put the pork on top of the beef. Smooth it out in the same way you did the beef and top it with another one-third of the parsley-cheese mixture. Repeat with the lamb, topping it with the remaining parsley-cheese mixture, and finish with a layer of the veal.
6. Put the loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake the meatloaf for 1 hour. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and spoon the tomato sauce over the top, spreading it over the surface of the meatloaf. Return the meatloaf to the oven and bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 145°F, about 30 minutes.
7. Take the meatloaf out of the oven. If you are not using a perforated pan, using oven mitts, tilt the pan to drain off the excess fat. Let the meatloaf rest in the pan for at least 15 minutes. If you are using a perforated pan, remove the meatloaf to a cutting board and slice it. Otherwise, slice it in the pan.