Millions love meatloaf. One of the ultimate comfort foods that never seem to drift out of our culinary passions. It's economical. Simple to make. Great with salads and veggies. A menu item that works for mealtime and sandwiches, too. While there are hundreds of versions, we have one that's a little bit healthier, and a lot juicier by adding fresh EVOO to extra lean ground beef; adding sauteed onions, carrots and celery as well as a bit of Garlic EVOO to keep things gourmet. While it's optional, adding finely grated Parmesan makes for the best kind of umami pop. Of course, there's always the need to have a fantastic glaze and finishing sauce. We've substituted the ketchup option with a fabulous Chipotle-Maple glaze. If you do yearn for the ketchup variety, add a little Traditional 18-year-old dark balsamic for a rich tang that will be a palate winner.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Garlic or Tuscan Herb olive oil
1/4 cup Chipotle olive oil
1/4 cup Maple dark balsamic
1-1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/4 cup grated or finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Traditional balsamic sauce (optional) 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp tomato paste
1/2 cup Panko crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese  
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, beaten
Crisscross 3 slices of bacon cut in half on top before placing in the oven
Add 3/4 cup of mozzarella in bite-sized pieces to the meat mixture
Preheat oven to 350°. On medium, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saute pan. Add onions, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes. Turn off heat then add the soy sauce and chicken stock. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine onion mixture, bread crumbs, milk, Parmesan and eggs. Add ground beef. Gently fold ingredients without kneading the meat. Move the mixture to a parchment-lined sheet pan with raised edges. Shape into a loaf that is 4 inches wide and 2 inches deep. Smooth the top. Add bacon now. Place in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. While cooking, in a small bowl add olive oil and 1/2 cup balsamic. Whisk until creamy. Brush on meatloaf after it has cooked for 30 minutes. Return to oven and cook for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until internal temperature reaches 150°. Serve sliced into 2-inch pieces and have the remaining balsamic sauce on hand.

Option: Place meat mixture in loaf pan gently pressing to sides. Cover with foil. Place upside down on a rimmed baking sheet. Add bacon if desired. Bake as above. When cooked, shake loose meatloaf, remove from sheet pan and serve. 

Inspiration: J. Kenji López-Alt, Serious Eats