Monday, March 05, 2007

Meat loaf

Twenty years ago, Sainsbury's brought out an excellent series of Classic Cookbooks, edited by Jill Norman. They were neat, square hardbacks, costing £1.99 each. I bought Middle Eastern Cooking by Claudia Roden (particularly good, containing all the standard dishes), French Cooking by Anne Willan, and Regional Italian Cooking by Valentina Harris.

This meat loaf is an adaptation of the "Bolognese meat loaf" in Valentina Harris' book. She includes milk as well, moistening the loaf further; then she forms it into a sausage shape, rolls it in breadcrumbs and fries it (to "seal it", she writes, misleadingly), before laying it on a bed of fried onions and baking it. I'd be worried that the meat would stick to the pan; and wouldn't it be hard to manipulate? Instead, to get the flavour of browned meat, I fried it as I usually do when making a ragu or a cottage (or shepherd's) pie, forming it into patties first.

I cooked the loaf in the 7 cm x 16.5 cm tin I had used for the chocolate cake. You could also make meatballs with this recipe.
Serves four.

200 g beef mince
200 g pork mince
Groundnut or sunflower oil
2 heaped tbsp grated Parmesan
Pinch of cinnamon
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 lemon -- juice and zest
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

Form the meat into eight patties. Heat a heavy frying pan, pour in a thin layer of oil, and fry the patties -- in two batches, if necessary -- over a medium to high heat. The temperature should be fierce enough to brown each side in about a minute. Tip the browned meat into a bowl.

Mix the meat with the Parmesan, cinnamon, salt and pepper, breadcrumbs, egg, and lemon juice and zest.

Clean the frying pan, pour in the olive oil, and soften the onion in it over a gentle heat until golden -- about 10 to 15 minutes.

Grease the loaf tin. Tip the onions into the bottom, and gently pack the meat on top. Bake at gas mark 4/180 C for an hour.

You may find some juice floating on the surface. Tip it out. Run a knife round the edges of the loaf, and turn it out on to a plate.

You can serve the meat loaf hot or cold. We ate ours hot, with mashed potato, tomato sauce, and lentils.

Note about this blog. I have just landed a deal for a new book -- not about cooking, but about a racehorse called Eclipse. (The Observer Sports Monthly yesterday carried a feature by me about him.) I shall blog slightly less frequently -- perhaps two or three times a week. Some people, rather than going to blogs to see if there is anything new, subscribe to RSS feeds, which alert them to entries in which they might be interested.

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