Meatloaf with Creamy Shells n’ Peas


Serves 12 people

For the Meatloaf:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds sweet Italian pork sausage, removed from casings

2 pounds lean ground beef

4 cups plain breadcrumbs

1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup whole milk

1 cup tomato puree, divided

½ cup parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the Filling:

½ pound small shell-shaped pasta

1 recipe Mario’s Besciamella Sauce

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

8 ounces frozen peas, thawed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.


In a small sauté pan, preheat a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes until translucent. Set aside to cool.


In a large bowl, combine the sausage, ground beef, cooled onion and garlic mixture, breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano, eggs, whole milk, ½ cup of tomato puree and parsley. Season with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Using your fingertips, combine the ingredients until just combined.


Meanwhile, prepare one recipe of Mario’s besciamella sauce. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to the besciamella sauce.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside. Dress the pasta with half of the besciamella sauce and add the peas. Season to taste with salt.


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place ¾ of the meatloaf mixture, lengthwise, down the center of the prepared pan (loaf should be about 5 to 6 inches widthwise). Using your hands, create a well, lengthwise, down the center of the loaf. Leave high edges along the sides and the ends of the loaf. Pour the creamy shells and peas mixture into the well of the meatloaf. Enclose the creamy shells and peas mixture by pushing the edges together and using the remaining meatloaf mixture to enclose the top. Press the meat mixture to tightly secure exposed filling.


In a small bowl, stir to combine the remaining tomato puree, brown sugar and vinegar. Season with salt to taste. Brush the tomato mixture over the top of the meatloaf. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with some freshly ground black pepper.


Place the loaf in the oven to bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.


Let the meatloaf rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Drizzle the sliced meatloaf with leftover besciamella sauce.



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