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Mediterranean Meatloaf Focaccia

Mediterranean Meatloaf Focaccia

Winter 2020

By: Signe Langford

No need to wait for the next day to enjoy a comforting meatloaf sandwich, this zesty version of a North American classic is hearty and delicious hot from the oven and just as yummy cold for lunch the next day. Instead of heavy mashed potatoes, we’ve lined the bottom of the bread with thinly sliced sweet potatoes and amped up the Mediterranean flavours for a cosmopolitan twist.

Serves 4 to 6

1 focaccia bread; about 8 x 10 inches (20 x 25 cm)
½ small sweet potato, peeled, very thinly sliced
½ tsp (2 mL) sea salt
½ tsp (2 mL) black pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small red or green pepper, seeded, finely chopped
1 jalapeño or other chili pepper, seeded, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp (2 mL) dry oregano
2 cups (500 mL) packed lean ground beef, about 1 lb (500 g)
½ cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese (or a combination)
¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped sun-dried tomato
2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped, rehydrated porcini mushroom (optional); start with about ¼ cup (60 mL) fresh, or 1½ tsp (7 g) dry, and cover in about 1 cup (250 m) boiling water to soften for about 15 minutes; drain and squeeze out excess water
1 tsp (5 mL) finely minced fresh rosemary
¼ cup (60 mL) finely chopped fresh basil
2 free-run eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (250 mL) shredded mozzarella
16 to 20 thin slices of spicy or mild Italian salami, enough to cover the surface of the focaccia

1. Carefully slice the top of the focaccia off; set aside.

2. Run a paring knife around the inside of the focaccia about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in from the outside; pull out the crumb almost to the bottom. Leave a wall of bread all around about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Pull crumb from the top of the loaf (the lid) as well; save the crumbs for another use, if desired.

3. Line a baking sheet with a piece of tin foil long enough to wrap up and over the focaccia. Set the focaccia into the centre of the foil-lined pan.

4. Use a mandoline or the single-blade side of a box grater to slice the sweet potato.

5. Lay the thin slices of sweet potato down inside, onto the base of the focaccia; overlapping a little, right up to the edges of the bread. You should use about 10 to 12 slices. Season with salt and black pepper; set aside.

6. Into a large skillet over medium-high heat add the oil, onion, and peppers. Fry, stirring often until softened, browning and becoming dry; about 20 minutes.

7. Add the garlic and dry oregano; stir and continue to fry for another 5 minutes.

8. Add the beef; stir to combine then take off the heat. Beef will be grey in some places, red in others. Transfer meat mixture to a bowl.

9. To the bowl with meat, add the grated Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, porcini (if using), rosemary and basil; mix very well to combine.

10. When meat is somewhat cooler to the touch, add the eggs and mix well to fully combine.

11. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

12. A spoonful at a time, transfer the meat mixture into the focaccia box, packing it down well between additions and making sure to fill all the nooks and crannies; don’t leave any air pockets but don’t press and stuff so hard as to break the bread wall. Continue until all the meat mixture is used; mound it up a bit in the middle and make sure to spread the meat all the way to the outer edges.

13. Top evenly with the grated mozzarella and place the lid back on.

14. Lay the slices of salami on top of the bread, like scales on a fish, overlapping somewhat, then bring up the foil, wrapping the loaf up tightly.

15. Bake about 50 minutes, then open the foil on top, allowing the steam to escape, and continue to bake uncovered for a further 5 to 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle reads about 150°F (65°C).

16. When done, remove from oven and allow to rest for about 20 minutes before transferring to a platter and slicing; if the interior is too hot, it will fall apart when cut.

17. Serve warm or enjoy cold.

Serves 4 to 6
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