You've possibly heard of Beef Wellington, and if you're lucky, someone who knows what they're doing might even have made it for you. Anyhow, I was being disrespectful the other day and wondering what might happen if we swapped the noble fillet steak for a piece of meatloaf, and I went ahead and tried it. Well, yes and no, and I shouldn't do things like that.
Very rich, and much drier than I had anticipated. And it didn't need the pastry - that was pure excess. Anyhow, it was not without it's redeeming moments, so I persisted, and I'm now reasonably pleased with what I shall laughingly title "Meatloaf Helensville".
Basic principles: make up your meatloaf and flatten it on a bed of breadcrumbs to about 2 cm thickness, and spread a layer of chicken liver pate (ex-Edmonds Cookery Book) over it. Roll it up like a jam roll, and place it, join downwards, in a roasting dish covered with foil, and cook for 30 minutes at 180C. Remove the foil, and cook for another 45 minutes.
The flavour of the pate permeates the meatloaf - a bit like a really good leberwurst, but with a slightly more grunty texture. Excellent hot, but also very nice indeed cold, and sliced finely on a salty cracker, or just by itself.
(I also had a few cold and cooked left over beluga lentils in the fridge - the little black ones, so-called because they reminded someone of caviar. It's true! Sad but true!
Anyhow, I took a few spoonfuls of these and scattered them over the layer of pate before rolling it all up, and these provided an interesting visual element. Besides, lentils are good for you. Maybe you could do the same with frozen peas.)
If you're still with me, here are the details.
1 medium onion, chopped
Several cloves garlic, chopped, to taste
37.5 g butter
A few button mushrooms, sliced
Fry these together until the onion is clear but not brown.
375g chicken livers
Fry these until just cooked, and still soft.
Combine these two in a decent-sized bowl
Melt 75g butter and add to the bowl
About a flat teaspoon each of salt and fresh ground black pepper, and a chopped sprig of thyme, and a couple of tablespoons of brandy.
Out with the hand blender and process until it is as fine as you want it.
[This will make about twice as much as you need, but what are you going to do with a bunch of left over, raw chicken livers. Put the left over pate in a small bowl and cover with a little melted butter, place in the fridge and that's nibbles for tomorrow. In fact, the pate is the better for a night in the fridge if your eating it as pate.]
500 g Sausage Meat
500 g Beef Mince, preferably lean.
1 teaspoon each of salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2-3/4 cup of dried breadcrumbs
1 generous teaspoon garlic paste or finely chopped garlic.
1 medium to large onion, finely chopped, or a heaped tablespoon of dried onion flakes. (Slightly different taste contribution. I always use the dried flakes in rissoles because fresh onion tends to make the rissoles fall apart in the pan. With meatloaf, more of a choice available.)
A good round teaspoon of curry powder, or a cumin/coriander mix.
A tablespoon of chopped parsley.
After this. it's a case of what's available. I can and do add frozen peas, finely chopped celery and/or capsicum - especially red capsicum - a little diced bacon or cheese, maybe a spoon of tomato paste.
Combine all of these thoroughly, then sprinkle more breadcrumbs on a clean surface and flatten out the meatloaf mixture onto this. You should get a rectangle around 400 mm by 250mm.
Spread the pate mixture liberally over this, and roll it all up like a jam roll. (The breadcrumbs are to keep it from sticking to the bench) Your roll will be about 400mm long and about 100mm through. Cut it in half crosswise, and place each half in a roasting dish with the join downwards, side by side, and cook at 180C for 75 minutes. For the first 30 minutes, cover the dish with foil, then remove it for the last 45 minutes.