What did the pizza say to the meat?
I love to loaf you, my dear. HA!
Here at Eat The Pizza, we sure loaf food—even more than we love cracking jokes. This time round, we’re bringing together two of the most comforting foods on the planet: pizza and meatloaf. And, we’ve gotta say, it’s the tastiest marriage you ever will eat. ‘Til digestion do they part.
Just in case our jokes aren’t cheesy enough, we’ve loaded up our meatloaf with mozzarella balls, slathered it in tomato sauce, and wrapped it in all in a toasty pizza crust. So, technically, that makes this masterpizza a cheese-stuffed Beef Wellington... (More on that in a moment!) But all you need to know is that this thing tastes darn GOOD. Also, did you know that Americans used to eat meatloaf for breakfast!? Well, get to know this tried-and-true comfort food, try our pizza-fied recipe, and go on and Eat The Meatloaf.
What is Meatloaf & Why is it So Dang Good?
Ah, meatloaf, one of life’s simplest pleasures. The ‘meat’ can refer to beef, pork, veal, sausage, ham, lamb, offal (a.k.a. organ meat)—pretty much any and all meats can be loaved, as long as it’s ground or minced. And, most modern-day meatloaves have since diversified, now blending multiple meats into one glorious loaf! As to the ‘loaf,’ well, the meat’s just molded into a loaf-like shape or popped into a loaf pan and then baked. BUT, there’s more to the humble meatloaf than meets the eye.
Beneath its surface, there are some secret ingredients that transform a lowly slab of meat into the prestigious meatloaf:
- Filler: A hunk of cooked meat on its own would be waaay too dense, so a quality meatloaf includes a filler of some kind. A bit of breadcrumbs, oats, crackers, rice, or minced veggies mixed into the meat create some breathing room, so you have a delicious meatloaf rather than a meatbrick.
- Binder: Every good meatloaf needs some help to hold itself together—it wouldn’t be a true loaf if it fell apart, now would it? Generally, a meatloaf needs eggs or dairy of some kind to bind the meat together, and they help keep the loaf juicy and moist.
- Seasoning: Meatloaf purists stick with salt and pepper, but there are no limits to the flavor possibilities. Nowadays, there’s a whole range of gourmet meatloaf creations, from hot-and-spicy to sweet!
- Dressing: Of course, the pièce de résistance, we can’t forget the dressings. There are sauced meatloaves, glazed meatloaves, bacon-topped meatloaves, and even meatloaves baked in a mashed potato crust! And, there’s the American classic: ketchup.
We hit all the marks with our pizza-fied meatloaf—beef and sausage, some chopped veggies, an egg, pizza-licious seasonings, and classic tomato sauce. BUT, what about that pizza crust wrapped around it?? Well, this is where meatloaf’s classy cousin comes in: Beef Wellington. Traditionally, beef Wellington is a big slab of steak, slathered with pâté de foie gras (mashed up duck liver) and duxelles (minced mushrooms, shallots, and herbs), wrapped in a puff pastry, and baked. Granted, we didn’t get quite so fancy. But, you should know the whole truth: we’ll call it Pizza Meatloaf for convenience sake, but we’ve actually made a Pizzaloaf Wellington.
Humanity: Molding Meat into Loaves for a Long, Long Time
Nope, meatloaf was NOT just a swanky American invention in the 1950s! To see where meatloaf began, you have to head way back in history to ancient Rome, 5th century. That’s where we’ve found the first record of a ‘meatloaf,’ which was chopped meat mixed with spices, bread soaked in wine, and pine nuts, all molded into patty shapes. The dish made it’s way through Medieval Europe, but it wasn’t until the 17th century in France that the meat was finally made into a loaf! And what a loaf it was—made with organ meat and suspended in a thick layer of jiggly gelatin. (If you’re into that sorta thing (minus the meat), may we recommend our Jello Fruit Pizza?)
From there, meatloaf actually traveled to America with Dutch and German settlers. During Colonial times, these settlers were in Pennsylvania serving up scrapple—a mixture of ground pork and cornmeal. And the name really tells all, because it was made from scraps that were scraped off of the bones of the pig, then ground up with the liver, lungs, and heart! That yummy, multi-meat blend was then mixed with cornmeal, molded into the classic loaf shape, sliced, and pan-fried. But, loaf shape and all, this dish still wasn’t yet known as ‘meatloaf…’
America: Land of the Free, Home of the Meatloaf
Plenty of American households think of meatloaf as a classic recipe, so why’d it take so long to hit its stride? Well, an essential tool for meatloaving wasn’t invented until the mid-1800s: the meat grinder. Folks still had to turn a hand crank to grind the meat, but it was a heck of a lot easier than mincing it by hand! And the invention truly paved the way (or ground the way) for the American meatloaf frenzy. Finally, by the 1870s—just under 150 years ago—the first bona fide meatloaf recipe went public in America! It had all of the essential meatloaf components, but it wasn’t just any old meatloaf recipe—it was a breakfast recipe.
At some point, seems like meatloaf-for-breakfast fell out of fashion, but meatloaf itself sure didn’t! In fact, the humble meatloaf was key to the survival of the American people during the Great Depression. It gave people a way to make inexpensive and tougher cuts of meat more appetizing, and that precious protein could be stretched further with fillers like stale bread, saltine crackers, or even breakfast cereals. Plus, you didn’t need anything fancy to dress it up! Budget items like canned soup became popular meatloaf sauces, as did simple condiments like good ‘ol ketchup and mustard. But, as soon as meatloaf had carried the country through the Great Depression, it had to come to the rescue yet again in the 1940s during World War II.
In an attempt to get the most nourishment for the lowest cost, one of the most infamous meatloaves in American history was born: Penny Prudence’s “Vitality Loaf,” made with beef, pork, pork liver, oatmeal, wheat germ, onion-evaporated milk, an egg, and chili sauce. (YUM!) Strange as it sounds, it did the job. With a well-earned place in Americans’ hearts, the meatloaf frenzy took off. Betty Crocker’s 365 Ways to Cook Hamburger cookbook in the 1950s had 70 recipes for meatloaf, and in the ‘60s fancy adaptations emerged like Sherry-Barbecued Meatloaves and Frosted Meatloaves coated in a mashed potato crust! Now, post the ‘90s era of meatloaf as a retro comfort food, we’re bringing you the future: Pizza Meatloaf.
Meatloaf + Pizza = Loaf at First Bite
Meatloaf! Get your meatloaf! Wrapped up in a warm blanket of pizza crust, stuffed with melty mozzarella balls, dipped in pizza sauce (or ketchup)—you’ve gotta EAT THIS PIZZA MEATLOAF, y’all. Truly, it’s so more than just a simple loaf of meat. It’s more like a Pizza Meatloaf Wellington.
Now say that 5 times fast, why don’t ya? Then get in the kitchen and get to meatloafing!
Pizza Meatloaf Ingredients:
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup basil, chopped
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 lbs ground beef
- 1 lbs sausage
- 2 eggs (1 for meat, 1 for egg wash)
- 1 tsp salt
- pepper, to taste
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- refrigerated pre-made pizza crust (we used Pillsbury brand!)
- mozzarella balls, as many as you can fit inside of your loaf!
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté sliced onions, garlic, and mushrooms until fragrant and beginning to sweat.
- Add chopped bell pepper and basil and cook another 3-5 minutes, seasoning to taste.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef, sausage, 1 egg, and cooked veggie mixture. Season with salt and pepper, and add ½ cup of tomato sauce. Mix all ingredients together using hands, until well integrated. (If mixture is too wet, add some flour or breadcrumbs to help soak up the moisture!)
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out pre-made pizza dough (about ¼ inch thick) into a rectangle. (Tip: Cover the pizza dough with a towel and set on the counter until room temperature. If the dough still pulls back and shrinks when rolled out, allow the dough to rest for additional time.)
- Add half of meat mixture into center of dough and flatten, leaving room all around the edges. (You’re going to need to fold up those edges to wrap your loaf!)
- Layer mozzarella balls onto meat, then top with the rest of meat mixture.
- Fold/wrap the dough around the meat, stretching it over and tucking in the ends.
- Place wrapped loaf on a wire baking rack lined with parchment, with the baking rack on top of a baking sheet.
- Brush outside of loaf with an egg wash. (Crack and beat an egg, then brush onto dough)
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving and Eating the Pizzaloaf!
Yields 1 massive Pizzaloaf Wellington & you're gonna loaf it.