This meal was born from a desire to create a "man pleasing dinner". The notion was that having had a healthy, vegetable inclusive fish dinner the night before - and another vegetable inclusive meal to come on Sunday (tomorrow) - the menfolk might like a man pleasing dinner to keep them interested.
In fact, this meal contained the subject of this blog entry - the meatloaf - together with a fantastic cornbread (which is dealt with in the next blog post) and baked beans.
Now I don't know about your menfolk, but my menfolk like meat. No, in fact, they like MEAT. *chuckle* I can understand this, as I'm a bit of a carnivore myself and do sometimes get a terrible hankering for a big lump of roast beef in which to sink my gnashers.
Quite a long way up on their "man pleasing foodstuffs" list, but below meat, is a good barbecue sauce. We've discovered Kraft's Bulls Eye BBQ sauce, which is currently doing a pretty good job in that connection. If anything, I find it a tiny bit sweet - but the menfolk love it and that's the main thing.
I can't claim to have invented this form of meatloaf, as like with a lot of things, I spotted a photograph on the internet that piqued my interest. That of a meatloaf with a coating of barbecue sauce - and it looked good.
Now I have written previously about my attempts to make a firm meatloaf that doesn't require a spoon with which to serve it. Hubby has a term for these soggy meat loaves - that of "meat porridge". It describes the texture quite succinctly.
Fortunately for us, I discussed the problem of meat porridge with my pal Melanie (a Brit who has been in Canada for the last mumblymumble years) and who claimed to have solved the conundrum. She decreed her meat loaves to be firm and positively perky. Hence, I have paid attention to Mel's tutelage and gone down my own road with the flavourings - but followed the basic recipe quite closely.
Lo and behold - what do we have here? Only a firm, sliceable, serve with a spatula and no spoon in sight, delicious meat loaf! Thanks, Mel!
If you also have problems with meat porridge, it is well worthwhile having a read of her treatise on the subject at her blog, Rutabaga Dreams.
I had been pondering on what to use as flavourings and couldn't really come to any firm conclusions. I knew I had to be aware of how much salt was being included - as additional sauces can often bring quite a slug of salt with them. So salt wasn't a problem unless I overdid it. The basic meats were two thirds beef, one third pork and a lone rasher of bacon (that had no other home to go to). Now onion was a given - but in fact, I used two shallots for their sweetness. The breadcrumbs were made from a combination of white and brown Polish Bakery bread - which can only be surpassed by home made bread, in my view. I also added a little tomato ketchup, some Worcestershire sauce, some Mic's Chilli Inferno hot sauce, a teaspoonful or so of freshly ground black pepper, some dried parsley and something that you may not have at home - a teaspoonful of Essential Cuisine's mushroom stock powder. Add an egg, mush it all together and into a loaf tin it goes!
Baking the meat loaf (at 180degC) is a simple matter of making sure it is inside another roasting tin, to catch any drips that may escape the loaf tin, then fishing it back out after 30 minutes. Very carefully, tip the liquid away then coat the top of the meat loaf generously with your favourite barbecue sauce. Back into the oven it goes for another 30 minutes and you're done.
The flavourings really are up to you. You can go Italian with sun dried tomatoes, oregano and garlic, or Mexican with chillies and beans, Indian with curry spices - really, so long as you follow the "no ingredients that will leach liquid" (like tomatoes, mushrooms, courgette etc.) and include the breadcrumbs and an egg, I see no reason why your meat loaf shouldn't be as sliceable as mine turned out to be!
The menfolk both gave the meat loaf - in fact, the whole dinner - a big thumbs up, so I'd say that's job done!
BBQ MEAT LOAF (serves 3-4)
3-4 slices of dry bread, blitzed into crumbs
pinch of sea salt
half a tsp of freshly ground black pepper
half a tsp of dried parsley
500g minced lean beef
250g minced lean pork
1-2 rashers of bacon, chopped fine
1 dessertspoonful of tomato ketchup
1 tsp of hot sauce (to taste - use more if you like more)
2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp of stock powder of your choice (most, but not all, of a stock cube will do)
3-4 tbsp BBQ sauce.
1. Place all the ingredients barring the BBQ sauce into a large bowl. Using your hand, scrunch and mix the ingredients until they are all evenly spread throughout the mix.
2. Take a one pound loaf tin and line it with silver foil (non-stick silver foil, if you can get it, is wonderful for this!).
3. Pack the meat mixture into the loaf tin, pressing it down firmly.
4. Place the loaf tin inside a bigger roasting tin and into a pre-heated 180degC/350degF/Gas 4 oven for 30 minutes.
5. At the end of the time, remove the meat loaf from the oven and carefully drain the liquid away. (Be very careful not to let your meat loaf fall into the sink, as happened to me on one stellar occasion).
6. Coat the surface of the meat loaf in BBQ sauce and replace into the oven for another 30 minutes.
7. When the time is up, remove from the oven and from the loaf tin. Carefully peel the silver foil back all around the meat loaf, but be careful of the hot liquid that will be contained therein. Let the loaf rest for a couple of minutes - no longer than 3-4 - then slice and serve.