Beloved throughout America, meatloaf is held up as one of the ultimate comfort foods, and everyone I've ever talked to about this wholesome specialty claims that their version is the best.
We are strongly attracted to foods that create such universal appeal as to generate a sense of pride and territory — what is the story behind that food, and why does it wield such power?
We are positively crazy about this week's featured recipe, Chef Colosimo's Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf, and not just because it's the world's best meatloaf, but also because it comes to us from a dear friend. Chef Robert J. Colosimo, known affectionately to his friends as Bobby, was the corporate executive chef at Clipper Cruise Line during the time that Tony and I worked for the company, and he was a terrific mentor, chef and friend to both of us.
Chef Colosimo's meatloaf was featured once each cruise for lunch, and it was a signature favorite with passengers and crew alike. It's not so different from other meatloaf recipes I've encountered, as there is only so much one can do to meatloaf, and perhaps it was simply the comfort of the familiar that made it so popular. But this savory and delicious meatloaf brought me home every time I ate it, even in such remote locations as the Amazon or Antarctica.
We're still in touch with Chef Colosimo, who was recently honored as Chef of the Year 2016 by the Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis, where he lives with his wife and three children. Two years ago, we shared his recipe for the famous Clipper Chipper Cookies, which has now become a favorite among many of our readers.
These days, Chef Colosimo is the general manager and certified executive chef at Eleven Eleven Mississippi, a restaurant located in the Lafayette neighborhood of St. Louis, founded by fellow Clipper Cruise Line alumni Paul and Wendy Hamilton. If you're ever in St. Louis, please make sure to stop in and say hello from Sarah and Tony.
When served aboard the Clipper vessels, Bobby's meatloaf was accompanied by a heavenly Marsala mushroom sauce and whipped potatoes, but here at home we're so eager to dig in that we haven't gotten around to making the sauce yet. We'll be sure to share it with you when we do.
This recipe calls for fresh breadcrumbs, and you can easily make your own by blitzing stale bread in your food processor until finely ground. I separate mine into cup-size portions and freeze them in plastic zip bags for easy use whenever I need them.
To form the meatloaf, I spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray and pack the meat tightly into it, then I turn it upside down onto the baking sheet and gently remove the pan. I cut the bacon strips in half and wrap them around the top and sides of the loaf, with each piece slightly overlapping.
Last week during our recent cold snap, we enjoyed one of the most comforting meals I have ever had, featuring Chef Colosimo's meatloaf, cream of chicken soup, apple spinach salad and Buxton smashed potatoes. You can find all of these recipes on our AreaVoices blog at www.thelostitalian.areavoices.com.
The effect this meatloaf has had on me over the years is nearly magical — when I was on the ship, one bite would instantly surround me with the comfort of home and family. Now, I am flooded with memories of exotic places, wonderful food and lifelong friends. What could be more comforting?
Chef Colosimo's Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
¼ cup minced onions
¼ cup minced bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons hot sauce (Tabasco or your favorite)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 to 6 strips uncooked bacon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sauté the onions, bell pepper and garlic with the olive oil for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Cool completely.
Combine all ingredients except the bacon in a mixing bowl and mix well until the ingredients are blended evenly. Take a small teaspoon of the mixture and fry in a small frying pan and taste for proper seasoning. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Spray a large baking pan with nonstick spray and form one long loaf of even thickness and length. After loaf is formed, place the strips of bacon evenly over the meatloaf.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until the meatloaf reaches an internal temperatures of 150 degrees. Remove from oven and let meatloaf rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owns Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 11-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and their blog at www.thelostitalian.areavoices.com.