Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Meat loaf

Meat loaf is a British classic and was a childhood favourite for me. It's ridiculously easy to make and easy enough to make a small one. This makes about two portions - cold, the leftovers make a good sandwich filling for next day's lunch, but it also reheats well and you could even freeze it in slices.

What you need: 
300g minced beef
1 egg
2-3 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1 small onion
A pinch of dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
1 dsp tomato purée

What to do:
Heat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with some tin foil. 

Grate the onion to a pulp using the coarse side of a grater, or chop very, very finely. Put it into a large mixing bowl with the mince and 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs. Season, add the herbs and tomato purée. Beat the egg and add a third of it to the mixing bowl. Use your hands to work all the ingredients together. If it looks too dry, add a little more egg. If too sloppy, add more breadcrumbs. You want a firm texture that you can shape, like burger patties. Form the meat into a brick, put it on the baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.
Cook's tips: 
This is one dish where I choose fatty mince rather than lean. The fat keeps the loaf moist while cooking. Too lean a cut and the loaf will be very dry.

I like to have a good heap of buttery mash on the side, plus some gravy - in my kitchen that usually means Bisto. I always make enough for leftovers so I can make fishcakes or bubble and squeak.

The greens on the side in the photo are kale chips. They are very easy to make - line a baking tray with tin foil, tip in the chopped kale and grind some sea salt over them.Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss with your hands to make sure all the leaves are coated. Bake in a hot oven (180-200C) for 8-10 minutes until crispy. For this recipe, that means I just pop in them alongside the meat loaf for the last 10 minutes.

If you end up with leftover beaten egg, it'll keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days. You can use it up in an omelette or scrambled eggs, egg wash for pastry or even a cake if you're baking (an extra third or half an egg won't make any real difference to a recipe).