As I said before, it might upon first glance, be considered a bit rash to be trying a meatloaf recipe. Especially when you consider that our problem with it has always been that the meat tends to degenerate into a texture more akin to meat porridge, than a good close textured and firm meat loaf.
However, after a bit of a conflab with the originator of the recipe, Gail Kruger Snyder from Good Deal Meals, I decided to try the "free form" method (one where the meat loaf isn't cooked in a loaf tin, but in a roasting tin where it is more likely to brown and less likely to poach). We also agreed that it was probably best to pour off any accumulated fat at the half-way point, to prevent the loaf from sitting in its own juices for too long. The accumulated juices from the remaining half hour's cooking would more than likely be enough to keep the loaf from drying out too much - not to mention the half kilo of cheese that is contained in it. (Well, maybe not quite half a kilo - but it felt like a lot when I was loading it up!).
The making of the meat loaf is easy peasy. You just chuck everything except the cheese into a bowl and scrunge it all together. Incidentally, I must say a word or two about the bulb of garlic we bought recently. It wasn't anything special, just the usual "Jumbo" garlic from the supermarket, but it has really fat, juicy cloves that are lovely and round. The flavour of the garlic is much nicer than the usual "triangular" shaped garlic cloves. It'd be great if they had changed to this type permanently - but I feel sure it's just one of those lucky flukes. I was a bit nervous about putting an entire clove of garlic into the meat loaf as I didn't want to be burping garlic for the next 48 hours - as often happens in these circumstances. In fact, the garlic just cooked out into the mince and did what it was supposed to - create a lovely background flavour. Three cheers for this lovely fat jumbo garlic!
|"Free formed" without being free formed ... kind of.|
The cheese stuffing did, regrettably, escape in places. I'd have been amazed if it hadn't, to be honest. There was so much cheese in there, that it had to run somewhere as it melted! If I was to make the meat loaf again, I would make sure the meat was pressed down around the edges of the cheese to a far greater degree, so as to prevent rivers of cheese escaping in future.
Plus, I had a bright idea about the free form aspect of the meat loaf. I wasn't too confident about making a mound of mince into a presentable meat loaf shape. So, I took a loaf tin and lined it with cling film - then built the meat loaf in the loaf tin, turning it out when it was ready to bake. Remove the cling film and voila! a perfect meat loaf shape. Brilliant.
|Looks a teeny bit sorry for itself - but it tasted good!|
Son and heir absolutely loved this meat loaf. In fact, he went and got second helpings, such was his keenness. Hubby thought it was "okay" and did comment that it wasn't as bad for meat porridge texture as they usually are.
I served it with crusty rolls and salad, as a kind of "DIY burger" approach. You could either eat it as it was, or load up your bread roll with salad and meat loaf. I tried it both ways and both ways worked for me. It made a nice change from the "gravy, potatoes and veg" approach that we've more usually used.
So there you are. An interesting experiment in meat loaf cooking that succeeded on some levels and was loved by the family teenager. I consider that something of a win.
CHEESE STUFFED MEAT LOAF (feeds 3-4)
500g minced beef (good quality is best, as it reduces the amount of fat involved)
one third of a medium onion, diced finely
1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
3-4 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
three-quarters of a cup (approx two handfuls) of porridge oats or oatmeal
100-150g Cheddar cheese.
1. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except for the cheese. It's best to use your hands for this, as you can tell much more easily when everything is combined.
2. Take a loaf tin and pat half the mixture into the tin, leaving an indentation approx 1 inch deep by 2 inches wide.
3. Slice the cheese into thick slices, to fill the middle of the indentation.
4. Spread the other half of the meat mixture across the top of the cheese - taking care not to disturb it too much - and press down to seal the edges.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and drain off any fat that has accumulated.
6. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until browned and crusty on top.
7. Leave to rest for 15 minutes, before turning out and carving to serve.