We served this for Boss #1's 5th birthday party a while back. Meatloaf was something easy to prepare ahead and could feed a lot of people.
For this version, we decided to "jazz" our usual meatloaf up and do an Italian-inspired version. In addition to the usual suspects of onions, carrots, celery, we added our "Italian" ingredients as roasted bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and blue cheese (OK, it's not an Italian blue, but still), to the ground beef mixture.
We had about 8 pounds worth of meat here, plus all the other ingredients. So, as illustrated above, I needed to stand on a stool to get leverage so that I could mix it all together.
We free-formed the loaf on a half-sheet pan. It was pretty big. We figured getting flat like this would make the whole thing quicker to cook.
Next, the sauce.
Italian-inspired still, so instead of the sweet ketchup-mustard combo, we went with a fig-balsamic glaze for this big slab o' meat.
I simply placed some dried figs in a small saucepan with balsamic vinegar and heated it on low until the figs softened and the balsamic vinegar had reduced. In hindsight, I would've chopped up the figs before the cooking process. Then, it was a matter of buzzing the whole mixture, seasoning with more sugar, balsamic vinegar as necessary, and salt and pepper.
I spread the sauce on top of the meatloaf and baked the whole thing at 375F until done. It might've taken about an hour or so.
Italian, see? It's endorsed by Mario Batali.*
This meatloaf was quite popular and several of our guests had seconds and thirds. It might seem like such humble fare, but "classed up" with some common enough "Italian" ingredients, it was worthy enough to be served at our boss' birthday party.
*LOL. That's actually the label from his Dutch oven.