The secret ingredient in The Pioneer Woman's meatloaf changes everything

It may be surprising to learn, but meatloaf has been around for seemingly forever. While we like to think of it as a classic invention of the 1950s that evolved into the classic comfort food it is today, meatloaf has been around for much longer. It even predates the first colonists setting foot into the New World, according to Bon Appetit. In fact, Meatloaf can be traced to the fifth century. Instead of tossing scraps of meat, they subscribed to the philosophy of waste not, want not and used those bits to make a meat loaf. Fast forward to the 1870s and New Englanders made it a priority to use up every bit of meat, tossing it together with seasonings, onion, egg, and bread soaked in milk to give it moisture. But get this, they ate it for breakfast!

We don't know about meatloaf for breakfast, but we do know this meal is still very much a beloved staple for dinner, and, of course, leave it to Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, to take this dish to the next level with her secret, or maybe not-so-secret, ingredient. Drummond's take on this recipe adds a little Italian flare that leaves our mouth's watering, and we think you will feel the same way.

Ree Drummond's secret meatloaf ingredients are Italian seasoning and pancetta

Ree Drummond's recipe for meatloaf is very similar to that of classic meatloaf, only Drummond's recipe adds Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper, and suggests skipping bacon and instead arranging pancetta in an overlapping pattern to create a sophisticated version of this meat lover's dish. Per My Recipes, pancetta is very similar to bacon in that both cuts of meat come from the pork belly and both are cured; however, whereas bacon is smoked, pancetta is not. And while bacon has to be cooked to be consumed, pancetta does not. 

Pancetta also offers a smooth texture without losing any of that salty goodness we love. Drummond's Italian meatloaf certainly sounds decadent. One reviewer from the UK noted that while meatloaf is not really a thing in Lancashire Village, this recipe, " ... went down a real treat." You can pull the full recipe from The Pioneer Woman's blog for step-by-step instructions where she walks you through her recipe with helpful photos. It's definitely a recipe worth trying and adding to your arsenal of weeknight dinner possibilities.