After catching the end of a Nigella Express episode a couple of weeks ago, where she made meatloaf, Lundulph expressed a hankering for it and I thought I'd make one for him when he came to visit this week-end.
The Nigella vesion only had eggs in it, but was covered with bacon, which I found intriguing and after discussing with my Mum, we decided to have a crack at adding bacon to our regular recipe.
So this one is a collaboration between me and my Mum, which was great fun. I also found out that the vine leaves were her invention to begin with, inspired by a gyuvetch made by a friend many, many years ago.
The mince we had for the meatloaf was home made, thus extremely lean, as my Mum removes every trace of fat and sinews before grinding the meat, so bacon would definitely be needed to stop it going dry.
And having spotted a photo of woven streaky bacon on a turkey, I thought I'd try that as well and make things extra festive.
Sadly my Mum never really bothers with amounts for ingredients there days, so the below may be well off the mark.
1.5 kg minced meat
300 g bread
water for soaking
4 medium onions
salt, pepper, dried savoury and fresh parsley
3 medium onions
1 can of mushrooms (400 g)
3 large carrots
3 tbsp vegetable oil
7 hard boiled eggs
salt and pepper
about 30 preserved vine leaves
560 g smoked thinly sliced streaky bacon
Garlic and paprika potatoes
7 jacket potatoes
4 - 5 tbsp garlic granules
2 tbsp paprika
5 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp flour
6 dl full milk
2 dl whipping cream
juices from the meatloaf
- Start by making the mince mixture on the evening before, so that flavours have time to develop. First soak the bread for a few minutes, then squeeze out and mix in with the other ingredients. If it feels too wet, add some breadcrumbs.
- Next prepare the filling. Peel and chop the onions. Peel and dice the carrots finely, drain and dice the mushrooms.
- Heat up the fat and fry onions, carrots and mushrooms for a few minutes.
- Peel and dice the eggs, then mix in with the other vegetables, season to taste and let cool.
- To make the meatloaf, first line two or three loaf tins with the vine leaves.
- Then on a piece of baking parchment, weave the bacon strips.
- Spread half of the mince (if using two loaf tins) over the bacon and then beyond onto the baking paper at one end. Pat it into a rectangle and fairly thinly, so that it can be rolled.
- Spread some of the filling in a thin layer, leaving 2 - 3 cm free on each of the two short sides of the mince rectangle.
- With the help of the baking paper, start rolling the part that's outside the bacon. Make sure the paper doesn't get trapped inside the roll. The idea is to have the bacon part cover the meat loaf on the outside only.
- Tuck in at the edges, then transfer to the loaf tin making sure the seam side is down.
- Cover with more vine leaves and bake in a pre-heated oven at 165 degrees C for about an hour and a half. It depends on how thick the loaf is.
- After the first 30 minutes, add a little water to each loaf tin.
- While the meatloaves are baking, peel and cut the potatoes into wedges, then parboil by covering them in cold water and just bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and let them cool for a few minutes.
- Grease up a deep oven tray and transfer the potatoes to it. Sprinkle garlic granules, paprika and salt and stir around to spread the spices.
- Distribute some margarine over the potatoes and bake in the oven at 225 degrees until they are soft inside and crisp up on the surface and have a nice golden colour. It works well to have the potatoes at the top of the oven and the meatloaves at the bottom, they should both have the required baking temperatures. It's a good idea to stir through the potatoes a couple of times during baking to make sure they all cook through evenly. If they look too dry, add a bit more margarine.
- For the sauce, heat up the oil, then add the flour and fry for about a minute, stirring vigorously.
- Start adding the milk a little at a time and still stirring constantly. It'll clump together to begin with, so just keep adding more milk and eventually the cream.
- When it has the thickness you want, let it simmer for a couple of minutes (still stirring) and then remove from the hob.
- When the meatloaves are done, carefully drain the liquid from them and add some of it to the sauce. Save some for later servings, as the sauce will go pretty thick when it cools down completely and this is a way to spruce it up a bit.
This was very successful, we served it with steamed and sautéed broccoli. It all combined very well, though we didn't use up all of the mince mixture, but had to remove about 200 g of it in the end. I wanted to freeze it and use to make a few Bulgarian meatballs at a later date, but my Mum mixed it up with some of the leftover filling and made a third mini-meatloaf.
Lundulph thought adding some chilli next time might make it even more interesting and add further depth to the flavour. I was thinking of perhaps adding red pepper or tomato to the filling to increase the contrast and make the roll shape more obvious when serving.
It was certainly great fun to make and to cook together with my Mum.