A while ago, I posted a blog about revisiting some classic 1970’s recipes for some inspiration.
It was because I feel that home cooking was a lot more simple back then and a lot of the recipes in my Mum’s old cookbooks were real classics and so easy to follow. Last time I was at my parents, my Mum treated us to meatloaf, which was one of the recipes she learned at a cookery class when she was first married. It was so delicious, that my husband made me promise to cook it myself one day.
Yesterday, I kept my promise. But before I could start, I had to work out if you can make it gluten free. The original recipe contains breadcrumbs. I did a quick online search and soon found that our trusty friends at Hale n Hearty make them.
But I didn’t have time to get them, so had a quick go at making my own with a very sad looking gluten free pitta bread and a couple of crusts from a gluten free loaf, that were sitting in my bread bin. Just whizzed them up in the food processor and spread them out on a baking tray to go a bit stale and dry. In these austere times, making use of the scraps from your £3 loaf of nasty GF bread, makes me feel very virtuous.
Once they were ready, I set about making the mixture. You need about 1kg of meat – you can use beef, or pork or even turkey mince. You can even mix the two. My mum usually uses pork and it is my favourite. But I only had a 500g pack of beef mince and a 500g pack of turkey mince, so decided to throw them in together and cross my fingers for a good outcome.
I put the meat in a large bowl and mixed them up a bit, with a big wooden spoon. You could use your hands, but I always get in such a mess, I thought I would try and improve my spoon control!
To the meat mix, you need to add one medium, finely chopped onion – I used a red one, for colour and flavour. I also added a finely chopped orange pepper, also for flavour and colour. You could easily make it without, but then it might just look and taste like the world’s biggest burger, not a problem for my husband. I think that would be his dream come true!
Next add a good handful or two of your breadcrumbs. Homemade or otherwise. Season the mix generously, with salt and black pepper. I also think it needs a lot of herbs, so I usually add a lot of sage, if using pork, and/or thyme, oregano if using beef/turkey. Another optional extra is a very generous dollop or two of grain mustard – just work to your taste. Finally I like to stir in some (teaspoon) sweet smoked paprika, partly for colour but it also adds a real warmth and delicious aroma. The very last ingredient is a medium egg. Next you just work it all together until it looks very well mixed.
You will need a quite large loaf tin. I had a glass one. I didn’t need to grease it beforehand. The meat gives out a bit of ‘juice’, and reduces in size a bit, so naturally came away from the glass during the cooking process.
I think it is best cooked in a medium oven for quite a long time. So about 170 for probably a good hour. Mine is a fan oven and very fast and fierce, so if yours is not a fan you might want to cook it even longer. You can always check it as you are going along. Obviously, if you are working with pork or turkey mince you want it to be cooked through and it is not nice if the meat is still a bit soft and wet inside. It should brown very nicely on top, and as I say, it shrinks away from the tin/glass as it cooks, so that is the clue that it is nearly ready.
I served it with anya potatoes (but any small new potato would work – just keep skins on, tastes better), roasted in lots of olive oil and garlic, generously seasoned with salt and black pepper – and some steamed white cabbage. I then add another dollop of mustard (a fiery Dijon) on the side. My husband always jokes that I must have been German in a former life, because my favourite dinners always seem to include pork, spuds, cabbage and mustard.
Perhaps he is right or perhaps I am just descended from a line of peasants who had no choice but to eat these foods. Funny how in times of recession we return to such thrifty cooking and eating! Anyway, I don’t care. Even the top chefs will tell you that keeping it simple is key to a good meal and I am happy to say that Tom agreed – it was really delicious. It was quick and easy to prepare and was enough to feed four hungry people. As it was only the two of us eating last night, we have the other half in the fridge, and I have to say, it is really good cold! So guess what I am having for lunch today? With pickles on the side, of course!