Not long after I began this blog I made a meatloaf from Mark Sisson’s website. At the time it didn’t work that well and I had a few amendments I wanted to make to it. I promised that I would try it again with those changes.
It’s taken me two and a half years to get round to it, thanks to a change in life soon after that post where I went from having plenty of time to enjoy cooking to doing several different jobs all at the same time and having no time to experiment properly during the week. Oh, and when we were in our busy period we were eating mince on all the weekdays so really didn’t want mince at the weekends too. So the new lifestyle now and a spare pack of mince in the fridge that needed using meant that I had the opportunity to try the meatloaf at last.
On returning to the original recipe (ground beef, apples, onion, garlic, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, egg, salt & pepper) I realised that a year or so back the Worcestershire sauce had been chucked in the bin. It was one of our major Paleo clear outs and I’d read the ingredients to find it was full of molasses (a form of sugar) and gluten. When I made the meatloaf last time I had commented at how well the Worcestershire sauce sang through the flavours. This time I was determined to go without it.
Since making it before I have also learned more about burger making and been educated in what holds together a good burger. It’s not just the eggs but also the fattiness of the meat. In fact, if you want a really good beef burger don’t just use lean mince. If you insist on keeping it quite lean then still cut your lean mince half and half with full fat mince. Apparently as the fat cooks it holds the meat together. Last time I had made comments about needing to add an egg because it all fell apart but these days Chris and I use full fat mince, so I decided to see how it worked with the different mince and no additional egg.
The recipe below, while inspired by the Mark Sisson recipe, has moved away from it quite a bit. Like any good meatloaf, the overwhelming flavour is of the meat, unlike a burger where people often go for “special” alternative flavours. I’m tempted to try this again sometime with a more tomato-base flavour, since we don’t add tomato ketchup to it when we eat. If I do then I’ll put up the alternative recipe. For now, this one worked pretty well though!
Ingredients (serves 2-3):
450g beef mince (fatty, not lean)
2 apples, peeled, cored and grate (don’t lose the juice as you grate)
1 onion, very finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 beaten egg
- Preheat the oven to 175C and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
- Put all the ingredients except the egg into a large bowl and blend together thoroughly using your hand(s – I like to keep one hand clean to hold the bowl etc. and just put one hand in the bowl to mix it all up).
- Pour over the beaten egg and continue to mix and squeeze with your hand(s) until the egg is well combined with the other ingredients and the mince has lost it’s stringy texture, instead being a more solid mass of meat.
- Transfer the mixture into the lined loaf tin and press it down, making sure the surface is flat. Put into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or a bit longer if necessary to cook through. (See section below on testing if it is ready without a meat thermometer.)
- Once done you will need to carefully pour off as much of the fat and water bubbling around the loaf before turning it out onto a board or plate and peeling off the greaseproof paper. Leave to stand for at least 5 minutes before starting to slice with a large sharp knife to give the fat time to set a little and hold it together better, otherwise you’ll find that it still falls apart a bit.
It might be an unappealing colour to look at but the taste is great. I have yet to trial turning it out onto a baking sheet and baking for a further 5-10 minutes to brown off the outside. If you try this do let me know how it goes.
Testing if it is ready without a meat thermometer
A good way to check if something like this is cooked through is to slide the metal blade of a sharp knife through it to the bottom, hold in the loaf for a count of 5-10 seconds and then draw out the knife and touching the flat side of the blade with the tip of your tongue in various places along the length that was in the loaf (making sure not to cut yourself). The loaf is cooked through if the knife is really hot all the way along its blade.
This works because the heat will conduct into the metal blade. If the heat hasn’t properly penetrated to the core of the loaf yet to cook it then the knife will feel cold to the touch halfway along. I find that my tongue is the best gauge of temperature as my fingers are too often very cold and therefore relatively cool temperatures feel hot to them.
This is a great technique I learned from a friend at University who used to feed me sausage and chip lunches in return for Alexander Technique and sports massage-type sessions. He used to use frozen sausages so it could be easy to undercook them if you weren’t careful. For something smaller like a sausage you can use a stainless steel fork instead and preserve your tongue, while also keeping the sausage relatively intact.