You might find it ridiculous that I'm posting quite an un-Thanksgiving recipe on the day after Thanksgiving, but as is usual around here, I'm quite late with my blogging. I actually made this most delicious meatloaf for the LAST holiday, Halloween, and I've been meaning to write it up for days. Well, almost a month, really.
I'm going to say from the start that I am not a fan of baked meat. I don't like meatballs for this reason, and usually, I hate meatloaf. Granted, the traditional American version is usually slathered with an oily-ish topping of ketchup, which you have to admit, doesn't exactly look mouthwatering. However, when I encountered this recipe in what is undoubtedly one of my new favorite cookbooks from a most beloved source, Jamie Oliver, I was tempted to try it. The recipe was preceded by a little introductory paragraph, where Jamie sang the praises of a good meatloaf and emphasized its comforting nature. I knew that I wanted a warm, comforting dish for our Halloween dinner. I'd invited my prospective sister-in-law C and brother-in-law over to enjoy the plethora of trick-or-treaters and a few traditional scary movies, and considering that it is one of my MOST favorite holidays, it was important that the evening was relaxed and pleasant, without a lot of stressful running around the kitchen or worrying about food. I knew that most everyone loves meatloaf, and even though it isn't my favorite, I was swayed by Jamie's comment about treating the meatloaf "as if I'm roasting a big joint of meat." Perhaps if I could think of it way, I mused, I might be able to actually enjoy it myself. Excellent strategy, Jamie!
Preparation was a breeze-don't be fooled by the long list of ingredients. It was easy to make the meatloaf mixture, and while it baked, I worked on the sauce. The end result was exactly as I'd hoped. The tomato sauce was deeply warm and greatly enhanced by the chick peas, which gave the whole dish a bit more substance. The meat, albeit of the baked variety, had the smoky salty flavor of bacon seeping delicately through it, and soaked up the tangy sauce nicely. Everyone loved it. Including me.
2 medium onions
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
12 cream or plain crackers, such as Jacob's (I used regular unsalted Saltines)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 heaped teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 pound good-quality ground beef
1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic
2 cloves of garlic
1/2-1 fresh red chile, to your taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 x 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans, drained
2 x 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 springs of fresh rosemary
12 slices of smoked bacon, preferably free-range or organic (I found that I didn't need that much)
To make your meatloaf:
Preheat the oven to full whack (475 degrees). Peel and finely chop one of the onions-don't worry about technique, just chop away until fine. Place in a large frying pan on a medium high heat with 2 lugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the ground cumin and coriander. Fr and stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes or until softened and lightly golden, then put into a large bowl to cool. Wrap the crackers in a kitchen towel and smash up until fine, breaking up any big bits with your hands. Add to the bowl of cooled onions with the oregano, mustard, and ground beef. Crack in the egg and add another good pinch of salt and pepper. With clean hands, scrunch and mix up well. Move the meat mixture to a board, then pat and old it into a large football shape. Rub it with a little oil. You can either cook it straight away or put it on a place, cover, and place in the refrigerator until needed. Place the meatloaf in a Dutch oven-type pan or baking dish, put it into the preheated oven, and turn down the temperature immediately to 400 degrees. Bake for half and hour.
To make your meatloaf sauce:
Peel the other onion and chop into 1/4-inch pieces. Peel and slice the garlic. Finely slice the red chile. Place the onion, garlic, and chile in a large pan on a medium high heat with 2 lugs of olive oil, the paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for around 7 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until softened and lightly golden. Add the Worcestershire sauce, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it slowly simmer for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper as needed.
To finish off and serve your meatloaf:
Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalks and put them into a little bowl. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and pour all the fat from the pan over the rosemary leaves and mix up well. Spoon your sauce around the meatloaf. Lay the slices of bacon over the top of the meatloaf and sauce. Scatter over the rosemary leaves. Put the pan back into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the bacon turns golden and the sauce is bubbling and delicious. Serve with a mixed leaf salad and some wedges of lemon for squeezing over-this will add a nice sharp twang.