Anything bacon touches becomes even better, and this Italian meatloaf is definitely no exception. As the bacon gets crispy outside, it traps the moisture inside, making the meatloaf tender and moist.
If you eat it immediately after it comes out of the oven, then you will be in for a delicious treat as the melted cheese oozes out from the center of each slice. The base recipe for the meatloaf, which comes from my husband’s Sicilian mom, is one I’ve tweaked constantly, and this is one of the family’s favorite versions.
There’s a lot of bacon in it, I know, but after cooking Italian meatloaves — or polpettone — for years, I have gone through much trial and error, taking away an ingredient or adding a new one until I liked what I had. If you are not a big bacon eater and worried about the amount of bacon in this recipe, then just peel it off your slice of the meatloaf and enjoy the tender meat inside.
Bacon-wrapped meatloaf with ham, cheese and spinach recipe
Using my basic meatloaf recipe I have been using for years, I wrapped the meatloaf in a layer of thin, woven slices of bacon. The result was a tender and moist meatloaf with crispy bacon skin outside.
Prep time: 25 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes | Total time: 1 hour
- 2 slices sandwich bread, crusts cut off
- 1/4 cup milk
- 9 ounces ground pork
- 9 ounces ground beef
- 1 egg
- 1-1/2 small onions, grated or finely chopped, divided
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- 9 ounces (more or less) very thin, long slices bacon
- 4 big slices cooked ham
- 6 thin slices cheese (individually wrapped cheese for sandwiches works well)
- Handful fresh spinach
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 cups frozen peas
- In a small bowl, soak the slices of bread in the milk.
- In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, ground pork, egg, 1 onion, Parmesan cheese, the milk-soaked bread, salt and pepper. Mix very well until very compact like a ball of dough.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place a big piece of parchment paper on your work table.
- Onto the parchment paper, place the ball of meat, and then flatten it evenly until you have a rectangular shape.
- On top of the meat, place the slices of ham, the cheese and the spinach.
- With the help of the parchment paper, roll carefully the meat around the filling to close up the loaf. Make sure the roll is very compact and none of the filling is sticking out. Set aside.
- On the same parchment paper, lay 3 slices of bacon horizontally, adding more slices to attain the same length as the loaf. Make sure the bacon slices overlap at the edges so they don’t open while cooking.
- Weave more bacon slices vertically into the horizontal bacon strips. Measure the size of the roll so the bacon weave corresponds with its size.
- Place the meatloaf onto the woven bacon, and wrap the bacon tightly around the roll.
- In a hot Dutch oven or large saucepan with a little olive oil over medium-high heat, brown all sides of the meatloaf. Turn it carefully with the help of a fork and a spoon.
- If you’re using a Dutch oven, then distribute the rosemary around the meatloaf, and if you’re using a saucepan, then transfer the meatloaf to a baking pan before adding the rosemary. Place the Dutch oven or baking pan into the oven, and roast for 20 minutes or until the meatloaf is cooked through. Halfway through the cooking time, pour the wine onto the meatloaf.
- While the meatloaf cooks, in a saucepan with olive oil over medium heat, sauté the remaining 1/2 onion, and then add the peas. Cook for 10 minutes, and then season with salt and pepper.
- Serve the meatloaf with the peas.