A classic meatloaf dish will go well for any casual lunch or dinner occasion, be it for your guests or family. It is also one of those recipes I like to say that combines “all into one” since there is protein, vegetable and dairy wrapped up in meat. Meatloaf can be sliced and served with salad and fried or mashed potatoes on the side. It is difficult to peg meatloaf to any particular nationality because many countries offer it on their local cuisine carte, though it is very likely that it originated in Germany (meat and potatoes anybody?!:)). My personal experience has been as follows: In the US, I have always had it mixed with oatmeal and glazed with ketchup; in Bulgaria, I have eaten it with an egg and pickles in the middle, in addition to other vegetables. According to wikipedia, meatloaf has been made at least since the 5th century in ancient Rome. The American version of meatloaf can be traced to German-American colonial settlers in Pennsylvania though the recipe began appearing in cookbooks at the end of the 19th century. The Belgian and Dutch version involves usually a simple meat and filler bake without additional ingredients. In several countries, the custom is to fill the meatloaf with a few hard boiled eggs: The Hungarian Stefania meatloaf or Stefánia szelet as well as the Bulgarian Rulo Stefani mandate for boiled eggs inside, whereas in countries like Germany, the Czech Republic, Philippines, Italy, Romania and Israel, the inclusion of hard boiled eggs is up to the chef.
In fact, this dish is so popular among a range of nationalities, age groups and cooks that there is even a facebook page created on it, further personifying its culinary appeal through modern interactive technology.
My version of meatloaf reflects both my love for and immersion into American, Bulgarian and Franco-Belgian cuisine, as it combines oatmeal as filler and ketchup as a finishing glaze, hard boiled eggs, and soft cheese melting in the heart of it.
- 1 kg minced meat
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup oats
- 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 1 scallion (chopped)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp red pepper
- 3 small carrots
- 2 eggs (boiled)
- 1/2 cup mushrooms
- 3 slices brie cheese (this time I used Damse Mokke cheese from the town of Damme, Belgium)
- pinch of thyme
MEAT + FILLING: Mix all the ingredients for the meatloaf, kneading it for a minute like dough, and set aside for 10-15 mins. In the meantime peel and chop carrots into long strips. Cook in a little water for 5 mins or steam. Boil eggs, peel and cut in quarters.
ROLL: Spread meat mix on a bendable cutting board or on ceran (plastic) wrap, about 1cm thick, in an oval shape. Arrange egg slices and carrot strips at one end and mushrooms, brie on top and thyme in the center, and begin rolling from the egg-carrot-filled end inwards. Gently roll in, holding and supporting the meat roll by lifting the malleable board or wrap. Work loaf like playdough or fragile pottery giving it the desired shape to fit your bake mould, which can be a rectangular non-stick pan or an oval clay dish, for example. Handle delicately when transferring it to the bake pan. If it cracks, simply patch it with some extra meat from the other end of the roll or “re-glue” the opening by pressing around it with your fingers.
Place in an oil-greased pan with closed end facing downwards, pour 1/2 cup water into pan and bake for 40-50 mins at 180C or until top is nice and golden-brown. Let rest for 5 mins, cut into thick slices and serve warm. Guten Apetit!
Optional: Feel free to glaze with ketchup before baking or to top with sliced or shredded cheese 10 minutes before baking time is up.