I made meatloaf this evening. I’m not entirely sure why. It’s not really part of the British culinary vernacular, is it? And yet in the USA (Dear Husband is Ohio-born) it’s a comforting staple. There are a bazillion different permutations (spicy, herby, veggie-laden, Italian-influenced with oregano and tomatoes, Mexican-inflected with chillies and coriander leaf, you get my drift), so why has it never caught on here?
Thorough – nay, exhaustive – research (thanks, Wikipedia!) reveals that it does have northern European ancestry. But of course it does. If you consider the idea that it probably began as a way of making small amounts of inexpensive meat (plus a little starchy filler – oats, breadcrumbs or suchlike) go a long way, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to consider it first cousin to the haggis, or certainly the faggot. Just don’t tell the Americans! (DH is the only American I’ve ever met who actually likes haggis.)
So, anyway, I was reminded of the potential usefulness of meatloaf as a good family food by this incredible lady, who works outside the home and still puts a home cooked meal on the table every night (and blogs about it! If I worked full time my kids would eat nothing but sandwiches!). This recipe is adapted from hers. And when I say ‘adapted’, I mean I forgot to add some stuff. I also topped it with some sautéed mushrooms, because I like them and because my ‘research’ had given me ample grounds for topping it with something (caramelized onions would be another option). Oh, and I metrificated it.
Note: I decided to make enough for two whole meatloaves, reasoning that if it was a riproaring success I could make it again all the sooner, and if it bombed I could add a bit of this, a bit of that, and maybe make some tasty meatballs in tomato sauce out of the rest.
For two loaves, each of which serve four
500g turkey mince
500g pork mince (I used this combination of meats because I wanted to lighten up on the traditional beef/pork combo, but I felt turkey alone might be too bland)
2 large handfuls wholemeal breadcrumbs (I have, as I may have hinted, a large supply of these to hand and I’ll be doing this with some of the rest – but you could also use rolled oats instead. The original recipe uses cracker crumbs.
1 medium onion, chopped
½ tsp ground ginger
A big splash of Worcestershire sauce
250g mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp brown sugar
5 or so tbsp ketchup
Preheat the oven to 180C. Combine all the ingredients apart from the mushrooms, butter, sugar and ketchup and mix well (go on! Use your hands!) Transfer half of it to a small loaf tin, or place on a rimmed baking sheet in a log/loaf shape. Sautee the mushrooms in the butter until cooked, and meanwhile combine the brown sugar and ketchup together in a small bowl. Place the mushrooms on top of the meatloaf and pour the sauce over the top. Bake for about an hour, until it feels firm when you insert a fork, and the fork comes out piping hot after a few seconds. We ate ours with roasted potato wedges (which pass for ‘chips’ in our house), though I think mash would really be more traditional.
Family friendliness rating: You know? Not too bad. They spat out the mushrooms as if they were poison, but it was worth a go. If I were making this just for myself I'd undoubtedly spice it up and add much more 'stuff', but for the sake of getting the children to try it, I kept it simple, which I think worked well.
Cleanup rating: Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Can I freeze it? Yes, I had an idea about this. I reckon it would work to freeze the second one IN the dish in which you plan to cook it. But of course you might want to use that dish in the interim! So line it thickly with cling film, then press the raw mixture in to the dish, freeze until solid then extract from the tin (by means of the clingfilm lining) and bag it. You can then use the dish until you’re ready to take the raw meatloaf out of the freezer and put it back for defrosting.