I didn’t try meatloaf until adulthood. You may not find this a particularly life-changing fact, and in all honesty, it wasn’t exactly the end of the world for me either. But I had read about meatloaf in books and seen it referred to in films and had always been really intrigued and curious as to what exactly this mysterious meat dish was as it just sounded so strange to me, meat – that is a loaf.
I didn’t really get the opportunity to try it as a child, as although meatloaf is extremely popular in the USA, it isn’t as well known in the UK. I had to wait until I was old enough to make it myself before I could try it (the thought of lots and lots of meat never really appealed to my mum as she was always more of a vegetable lover). Now, to some, when asked about their thoughts on meatloaf, it may seem glaringly obvious – isn’t it just meat in the shape of a loaf? And yes, initial observations could be completely just in concluding that that is all it is. But I feel this would be doing a disservice, as actually, meatloaf is a lot more than just densely packed mince meat in the shape of a bakery product.
Firstly, you can really vary the spices, and the more recipes I read, the more I see this is true. There are the plainer versions, but you can also be incredibly creative. You can add bacon or other meats, lots of spices, different types of veg and also chilli, lots and lots of chilli.
And then, if you want to be a little more adventurous, you could add some boiled egg. This is where meatloaf verges onto Scotch egg territory, a much more beloved and well known dish in the UK. But then again, meatloaf is made from beef mince, not pork; it doesn’t have any breadcrumbs on the outside; and it’s not deep-fried. Ok, so on second thoughts, perhaps it isn’t that similar after all.
But it does taste just as good. And I can vouch for that as I am now a meatloaf making expert!
This dish is great for weekday dinners, especially as you could prepare it in advance if you want, keep it in the fridge and then pop it in the oven when ready to cook. It also reheats pretty well and is enough to serve even the most hungry of stomachs.
You can serve with rice or potatoes, but I like to eat it with one of my favourites – mashed potatoes… mmmmmm. I know what my dinner is going to be tonight, you should make it yours too!
OTV Cuisine: Meatloaf
Serves 6 – 8
- 900g minced beef
- 2 onions, peeled
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 celery stalk
- 4 slices stale / few days old white bread
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons American mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons dried mixed herbs
- 12 rashers streaky bacon
- Place the minced beef in a large bowl and set aside.
- If you don’t have a hand blender or food processor, you will need to chop all the vegetables finely by hand, but the easiest way to make a good meatloaf is to chop them into rough chunks, then put them in a bowl and blend them together with a hand blender.
- Crumble in the bread and add the eggs, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, chilli flakes, if using, parsley and mixed herbs.
- The mix should be quite sloppy and wet.
- Make sure your hands are clean, because I think the best way to make meatloaf is to get your hands into the mix.
- Pour the chopped vegetable and bread mixture into the mince and combine well.
- Once the mixture is completely blended, shape it into 6 oval meat loaves, about the size of a balled-up fist.
- Wrap each one in streaky bacon by crisscrossing 2 rashers over it, then place on a baking tray.
- Alternatively, you can line two 900g loaf tins with the bacon rashers, then press the meatloaf mixture into them.
- Place in an oven preheated to 180°C and bake for 40 minutes for the small loaves or 1 hour for the larger ones.
- Serve with potatoes (mashed is my favourite option) or rice with veg.
Recipe: Charita Jones
Photos: see captions