Antonio Giannola, dining room manager at Café Cortina, was born in New York but grew up in Palermo, Sicily. He attended culinary school in Monreale, Sicily, and then worked in Italy prior to coming back to the U.S. in 2002. He chose his mother’s recipe “because it brings me back to Italy every time I eat it.” Every time Nonna Rosa visits from Italy, his sons ask her to make the delicious meatloaf. She started making this recipe back in 1975 around Thanksgiving, he says. “My dad was not a big fan of turkey so my mom came up with this recipe, using corn flakes and milk instead of all breadcrumbs so the meatloaf is very moist — even after three or four days in the fridge.”
Nonna Rosa Palermo Meatloaf (Serves 4)
½ cup corn flakes
¼ cup Italian breadcrumbs
½ cup whole milk
1 pound ground meat, 80 percent lean to 20 percent fat
4 ounces white American cheese, cut in cubes
4 thin slices mortadella with pistachios, cut in cubes
½ finely chopped scallion
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon durum flour
Mix corn flakes and half of the breadcrumbs and soak in milk for 2 hours in refrigerator. Mix ground meat, the remainder of the breadcrumbs, cubed cheese, mortadella, scallions, nutmeg, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, and pepper, then add the soaked corn flake mix.
If meatloaf seems too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Dust the mixture in durum flour and sear in olive oil (medium heat) until the flour becomes golden brown. Transfer to meatloaf pan, place in the oven, cover with foil, and cook at 350 F for about 30 minutes.