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Broccoli Rabe Meatloaf with Bacon

meatloaf-plated

Probably few things convey comfort more than a sizzling and aromatic meatloaf in the oven. There are as many ways of making it as there are cooks but one thing is for sure: adding a cooked, chopped vegetable to the mixture ensures that the meat doesn’t dry out during baking. Cooked broccoli rabe not only keeps the meat mixture moist and tender, it imparts its own unique and seductive spice that settles in so nicely with red meats. The bacon adds its smokey flavor to both the meats and the greens, but even without it, the loaf is delicious. For a delicate meat mixture, use the classic Italian combination of ground veal, pork and beef. Alternatively, a blend of ground pork and beef does nicely. I like to make boiled or mashed potatoes to serve alongside the meatloaf, or a side dish of rice.

Recipe by Julia della Croce
Julia is one of America’s foremost authorities on Italian cooking. She is a James Beard Award winning author and has written over 15 cookbooks.

Serves: 8
Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 1¾ hrs
Total: 2½ hrs

Ingredients

  • Half bunch or an 11-ounce package prepared broccoli rabe
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
  • 2 pounds mixed ground pork, beef, and veal
  • 1 cup unflavored breadcrumbs
  • 4 slices bacon

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Directions

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1. Preheat an oven to 350°F.

2. Prepare and cook the broccoli according to the recipe for Blanching or Boiling Broccoli Rabe, boiling it for 8 minutes. Drain well and squeeze with your hands to extract as much of the water as you can (yield, 1/2 pound); chop it coarsely.

3. In the meantime, warm the olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic over medium-low heat until they are translucent, about 10 minutes. Set it aside to cool.

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4. Put the eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat lightly with the salt, pepper, and grated cheese. Add the meat, chopped greens, breadcrumbs, and sautéed onion and garlic. Use your hands to blend without overworking the mixture. Shape them into two ovals and fit them into a large baking dish or two smaller ones. Lay two strips of bacon over the top of each. Add 1/2 cup water into the baking pan around each loaf.

5. Bake loaves until cooked through and nicely colored on the surface, about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours, checking it every 15 minutes. Add up to an additional 1/4 to 1/2-cup water as needed periodically to prevent the loaves from burning on the bottom.

6. Drain off the fatty drippings. Allow the loaves to settle for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve right away.

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