It's time to wrap up our journey through The Choice with one more dish inspired by this book: Cute little single-serving meatloaves stuffed with mozzarella.
I won't be revealing the ending of The Choice, of course (if you want to see more about this story, click here, here, and here), but I will tell you that Gabby and Travis do get married and start a family. And that Gabby finally learns to cook. One night Gabby prepares Italian style meatloaf, and Travis is truly impressed and pleased.
Joe doesn't like meatloaf. Moe and I love it. Curly and Larry don't have strong feelings one way or the other. I do make it on a fairly regular basis, though; I always use the All-American Meatloaf recipe in my Southern Living At Home cookbook, with a couple of my own little tweaks. But that one isn't Italian-style, as far as I know, so I went online (and it occurred to me that I ought to ask my Italian mother-in-law how she made hers, but given the fact that Joe never liked the meatloaf his mother made anyway that might not be the best way to go) and found a recipe from Food Network's website that looked yummy and might be fun to prepare:
LITTLE MOZZARELLA-STUFFED MEATLOAVES
• 1 1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (ground beef, pork, and veal)
• 1 medium onion, grated
• 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or regular dried bread crumbs
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 4 thin slices pancetta (about 1- ounce), optional
• 4 small squares smoked mozzarella (about 2 ounces total)
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 cups marinara sauce, jarred or homemade, hot
Special Equipment: 4-inch round biscuit cutter, or tuna or other can, top and bottom removed
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Break the meatloaf mixture into a large bowl and use your hands to lightly work in the onion, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and pepper until evenly mixed. Take care not to overwork the mixture.
Space the pancetta slices, if using, a few inches apart on the prepared pan and put the cutter on top of 1 piece. Divide the meatloaf mixture into 4 equal portions. Press a piece of cheese into the center and then press the meat around it to enclose it completely. Put a portion in the cutter and press gently so that it covers the pancetta evenly, and makes a neat, flat disk. Repeat with the remaining meatloaf mix to make 4 little loaves. Remove the cutter.
Whisk the glaze ingredients in a small bowl, and then spread about 1 tablespoon of the mixture over the top and sides of each meatloaf. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees F. and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes more. To serve, ladle some hot marinara sauce into the centers of 4 plates, and set the meatloaves on top.
Cook's Note: The pancetta adds a nice flavor note to the meatloaves, but you can leave it out--shape the meat in the cutter right on the baking sheet.
Copyright 2005 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.
2 1/2 cups raw rolled oats
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (I used potato starch instead)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking sda
1 cup light-brown sugar, firmly packed (I like dark brown sugar; that's what I used)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2. In medium skillet, over medium heat, heat butter until lightly browned. Be careful not to burn. Add oats; saute', stirring constantly, until golden--about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.
3. Meanwhile, sift flour with cinnamon, salt, and soda; set aside.
4. In large bowl, combine sugar, egg, and vanilla. With wooden spoon, or portable electric mixer at medium speed, beat until light.
5. Stir in rolled oats and four mixture until well combined.
6. Drop by slightly rounded teaspoonfuls, 3 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets.
7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden. Remove to wire rack; cool.
The dough turned out slightly runny and sticky--although I have no idea whether or not it was the flour substitution that caused that. When they baked they spread out really flat and I was afraid they would stick to the pan, but hooray! They didn't. And guess what? Everyone loved them. I will definitely be making these again.
Happy New Year! See you soon!