This meatloaf exists somewhere between a giant Scotch egg and a gala pie. It’s perfect picnic food.
Serves: 6 • Prep Time: N/A • Cook Time: 35 mins
We have a house full of guests at the moment. The idea of buying cold cuts for sandwiches to sustain us all over the next week or so was overwhelmingly expensive. But in the supermarket I spied some reduced minced beef and hit upon an idea: a picnic meatloaf. Leftover meatloaf makes terrific sandwiches, so I wanted to come up with a meatloaf recipe specifically for slicing as sandwich filling or just serving with pickles and salad as a simple but tasty, and filling. The perfect lunch food.
Thus was born Picnic Meatloaf. It uses a combination of minced beef and sausage meat for flavour and much like a gala pie—a posh version of the British staple pork pie—it has hardboiled eggs running through its middle. Somehow, this makes it feel more substantial, rather than being ‘just leftovers’. Not that there’s anything wrong with leftovers. Leftovers happen to be some of my favourite food.
As this meatloaf recipe is intended to be served cold, it is also quite robustly seasoned. When foods are served cold there is less opportunity for the flavours to reach the palate, so you need to add a little extra flavouring to ensure that it doesn’t taste bland. (This goes even more so for frozen food; if you’ve ever made ice cream you’ll appreciate just how much flavouring and sugar it takes.) If you think that two tablespoons of tomato ketchup, two teaspoons of mustard, and all the herbs is overdoing it, please go with me on this, at least once. It works. Of course, if you want to serve this as a hot meatloaf, you can tone it down a touch.
Picnics are magic, celebrating ‘the great day out’ and good times shared over good food. Picnic Meatloaf was invented on a whim and will soon be a staple in our house.
If you wanted to turn this into more of an English Breakfast meatloaf recipe, there’s no reason why you couldn’t wrap it in bacon before putting it in the oven, either.
This recipe uses matzo meal as the meat extender. Matzos (or matzot, if you want the precise plural) are the crackers that represent the unrisen bread baked by the Israelites as they fled Egypt in a hurry under Moses’ leadership, and are eaten at the Jewish festival of Passover. Passover, or Pesach, falls in the spring and celebrates the Israelites’ flight from slavery. For eight days, those who observe the holiday refrain from eating anything leavened, whether that’s bread or cake (and even some grains and beans), and instead eat matzo. Ground matzo, or matzo meal, comes in varying degrees of fineness and is used as a substitute for flour in cakes and pastries, as well as for breadcrumbs.
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Matzo and matzo meal are available year round, and you don’t have to go to a specialist store to find it; most supermarkets stock it in their ethnic or world foods section. Matzo happens to make an excellent breadcrumb substitute—not just for meatloaf—and I can recommend having a box in your store cupboard. In particular, matzo meal is excellent when used to coat fried foods, for example fillets of fish or chicken kievs, to give a crispy exterior. If you can’t find matzo meal and don’t fancy grinding up matzos in your food processor, you can, of course, use regular breadcrumbs in this meatloaf recipe. Two slices of bread should do it.
Once you’ve put your Picnic Meatloaf together, all you need to do is restrain yourself from eating the meatloaf all in one sitting, warm and gorgeous straight from the oven (it will sorely tempt you). Remember, there’s enough here to serve between eight and 12 people for lunch, depending on how hungry they are—and how thick you slice the meatloaf—and whether you tucked any away meatloaf leftovers before your picnic to make sure you’d have them later.
Here’s how to make this delicious meatloaf recipe
Start by hard-boiling three of the eggs. (The fourth egg is needed to bind the meatloaf.) They will need eight minutes in fast-boiling water.
While they are boiling, fry off the mirepoix–the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic–in a splash of oil over a medium flame until the vegetables are tender. If this seems like an unnecessary extra stage, I do recommend it to prevent the vegetables from staying just that bit too crunchy in the meatloaf.
Turn on the oven and heat it to 170º Celsius (340º Fahrenheit). You can shell the boiled eggs about now, too.
When the vegetables have softened, tip them into a large mixing bowl together with the remainder of the meatloaf ingredients, but not the hard-boiled eggs. Carefully, as the vegetables are hot, mix together everything using your hands. You want to create a smooth mixture that can hold its shape.
Take a large oven-proof dish and grease it with a splash of oil.
Split the meatloaf mixture into two, and shape one half into a rectangle measuring between 25 and 30cm (that’s 11 or 12 inches) by 12cm (5 inches) and place it in the oiled dish. Make three, evenly spaced, egg-sized indentations in the meatloaf mixture and lay your hard-boiled eggs in them.
Shape the second half of your meatloaf mixture into a corresponding rectangle and place it over the base half. Carefully squeeze together the meat mixtures to make one loaf and place the dish in the oven for about an hour. It will have browned and shrunk a little when it’s cooked.
Allow the meatloaf to cool in the dish before removing it with a pair of fish slices and transferring it to an airtight container to be refrigerated. It’s delicious served with mustard and pickled cucumbers. Or, if you have a jar: piccalilli.
Picnics are magic, celebrating ‘the great day out’ and good times shared over good food. Picnic Meatloaf was invented on a whim and will soon be a staple in our house. What are your staple picnic foods, and what is your go-to picnic plan? Share your recipes in our app! Remember: great food is deserves to be shared.
- 450g (1 lb) minced beef
- 300g (10 oz) sausage meat
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 carrot, chopped fine
- 1 and half ribs celery, chopped fine
- 2 cloves garlic
- 125g (4 oz) matzo meal
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 1 teaspoon grain mustard
- 1 teaspoon English mustard
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Oil for frying
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Who’s Cooking Today
Daniela Bowker allegedly lives in the UK and supposedly writes for a living. She definitely travels and eats food for fun. She’s tried a sweet bean stew in a backstreet eatery Hong Kong, pad thai on a street corner in Bangkok, and had meroavi Yerushelami at the market in Jerusalem, not to mention reindeer in Norway, caponata in Sicily, and tagine in Morocco.
She often manages to work food analogies into her everyday writing, so do be on the look out for likening selfportraits to lasagne and multiplicitous images to cakes over on Photocritic. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram, and on Flickr, too.
Forq Test Kitchen: Meatloaf Recipes
The full FORQ meatloaf recipe archive, straight from our FORQ Enthusiasts.
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