When we buy a new cookbook, we usually find that we’ll pick up one new “keeper” recipe from it.
This was certainly the case when, some years ago, we picked up a rather large tome named “Food Of Eastern Europe”.
Of all the recipes in the book, this one, for a Serbian Meat Loaf, is the one that we come back to again and again.
It’s not exactly dinner party material, but for a lazy Sunday family lunch, it’s hard to beat.
One word of warning – this dish does have a tendency to reduce your kitchen to a scene of utter devastation….
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 500g minced beef
- 500g minced pork
- 3 packets of streaky bacon
- 2 140g packets of diced, smoked bacon
- about 2 tbsp dried mixed herbs – think thyme, parsley, rosemary, etc.
- about 2 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 3 eggs, beaten
- plenty of olive oil
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- Add a splash of olive oil to a large non-stick frying pan. Fry the cubed bacon over medium heat until it’s browned, but not crispy. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving behind all the rendered bacon fat to fry the onions, garlic, and spices / herbs in.
- Add a plash more olive oil to the pan. Fry the onion until nearly soft, about 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic, the smoked Spanish paprika, and the mixed herbs. Fry for a further 5 minutes or so until the onion is soft. Add a splash of hot water if the mixture starts to think about sticking. Not too much though – the mixture should not be runny or watery at all.
- Place the minced beef and the minced pork in a large mixing bowl.
- Once it’s cooled down sufficiently, add the onion mix to the meat. Add the diced bacon, too, and the beaten eggs. Give the ingredients an initial mix with a wooden spoon. Now comes the fun part. Dive in with your hands, and give the contents of the bowl a good mix by hand, squidging and squishing the mixture through your clenched fists in order to get a good, fine mix.
- Grease up a 1.7l or thereabouts loaf / bread tin with olive oil, then line the inside of the tin with streaky bacon.
- Spoon in the meat mixture, pressing it down thoroughly. Cover the top of the meat with the remainder of the streaky bacon, so that it is totally enclosed in a cocoon of bacony goodness.
- Cover the tin with aluminium foil. Bake for 1½ hours. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool down somewhat.
- Before you attempt to turn the meat loaf out of the tin, it might be a good idea to drain off any fat and water that has come off the meat. Turn the meat loaf out onto a cutting board. Allow to cool a tad more, as this will make it slightly easier to slice.
- Slice and serve.
I usually serve this dish with nothing more fancy that steamed cauliflower, swede (rutabaga) and carrot mash, and / or sauerkraut.
Like many other dishes, this meatloaf will taste even better if allowed to sit in the fridge overnight. Although it is of course much quicker and easier to re-heat it in the microwave, I prefer to either eat it cold, or warm it up in the oven – 15 minutes at 200 degrees C should be about right.