“Back in the 1970s, I was just learning how to cook. My family was a regular meat and potatoes crowd. Mom’s cooking was great—with the exception of her meatloaf. It was lean beef and an egg with burnt ketchup on top. So, I went looking for another way to make a meatloaf and found out how at a friend’s grandma’s house.” What Jim found is certainly no everyday meatloaf. It’s made by spreading the meatloaf mixture into a rectangle, then layering ham and cheese on top and rolling it into a log, jelly-roll style before adding the glaze on top. It may sound kitschy, but it’s actually an adaptation of an old Italian recipe. The Sicilian meatloaf known as falso magro is made by taking a thin slice of meat and wrapping it around ground meat and other ingredients. One recipe we found wrapped a pounded piece of beef round steak around a meatloaf-like filling, inside of which had been rolled sliced prosciutto and whole hard-boiled eggs. Another Italian recipe, though not specified as Sicilian, wraps a ground meat mixture around ham, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs. Jim’s recipe omits the eggs (thankfully, in our minds) and opts for a meat-cheese combination that not only looks great when the meatloaf is sliced, but it adds a flavor and texture that guarantees this meatloaf will stand out from the crowd.
1. For the glaze: Process the glaze ingredients together in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until thickened, about 20 minutes.
2. For the meatloaf: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Combine the beef, sausage, tomato juice, crackers, parsley, oregano, garlic, egg, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and mix with your hands until evenly blended and the meat mixture does not stick to the bowl.
4. Following the photos on page 000, lay a sheet of foil perpendicularly over another sheet of foil to make a cross.Spread the meat mixture over the bottom portion of the top piece offoil to make a 10 by 7 1/2-inch rectangle. Layer the ham and cheese evenly over the meat, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the bottom and sides and a 1-inch border along the top. Roll the meat andfilling into a compact log. Transfer the loaf to an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (still in the foil). Fold back any excess foil.
5. Spread the glaze evenly over the meatloaf and bake until the center registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 1 hour to 1 hour 25 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes. Remove the roll from the pan using the foil sling and serve.
Notes from the Test Kitchen
Tasters were taken by this unique twist it put on standard-issue meatloaf. We opted to scale down the original recipe to make one loaf instead of two—one was plenty for a family of four—but we kept the same amount of glaze and tomato juice, an adjustment we felt put the flavors into the right balance. We found that the fresh basil Jim called for mixing in with the ground meat lost its flavor after the long cooking time, so we swapped it out for a combination of fresh minced parsley and oregano. A foil sling made rolling the meatloaf and transferring it to and from the loaf pan a cinch.