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Italian-Style Meatloaf

Serves 6 to 8

I imagine there are as many recipes for meatloaf as there are people who make it. I always loved my mother's meatloaf, which is in the similar and related recipes. But as I started to experiment more with cooking, I changed a few things to suit my tastes, and this recipe is a cross between Mom's and how my Italian friends made it. Nowadays, people add all sorts of unusual ingredients to meatloaf. Some sound interesting, but my favorite meatloaf made with beef is still the classic, and this is my recipe. For something different and equally delicious, try my turkey loaf, also in the similar and related recipes.

Ingredients

Soak the bread in the milk until wet. Squeeze out excess milk and discard. Place the bread and all of the remaining ingredients, except the tomato sauce and bacon, in a large bowl. Work with your hands until well combined.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Form the meat mixture into a free form loaf about 8 inches long and 4 inches wide. Place in the center of a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the loaf with extra space on all sides. Spoon the sauce over the top, then place the bacon slices across the sauce. Bake until thoroughly cooked, about 50 minutes. (Internal temperature should be about 160°) Remove from oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes: By placing the meatloaf in a large pan rather than a loaf pan, the sides brown more and the grease has somewhere to go instead of back into the meat mixture. Typically, meatloaf is made with ground chuck. If you want to make a leaner loaf, as I do, you can use ground sirloin, which is usually 90% lean. The flavor is equally good. Leftovers make great sandwiches.