I hope I won’t offend you. But really, meatloaf? How dull and dreary can a slab of mince meat be? It’s so often overcooked, grey, crumbly and tasteless. Yet, so many of you go all dreamy and wistful at the mention of the hateful lump of meat. This is a bit of nostalgia that needs to updated. I need to improve your meatloaf for you. Many ‘traditional’ recipes require no more than some beef, some lamb, some sawdust, a chopped onion, salt and pepper (OK, the chopped onion is optional. You need the sawdust to get the traditional gritty texture.).
We have to be able to elevate this staple of 1920’s America to something palatable (It’s no wonder they called it the Great Depression). To do this, I decided to introduce some vegetables, some fat and some flavour. Given that the meatloaf is usually cooked in a bain marie, I reckon sous vide can help in the rescue.
Ingredients for Meatloaf Sous Vide
- 1 kilo of good quality leg beef
- 4 streaky rashers of bacon
- 150 grams or so of pork fat
- A tablespoon or two of concentrated beef, pork or chicken stock.
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1 small tin of tomato purée
- 2 carrots
- 3 stalks of celery
- 2 onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- A big handful of breadcrumbs (yes, breadcrumbs, not sawdust)
- Plenty of salt and pepper to season
Celery, carrot and onion are known as the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Italian cuisine. The French also claim ownership by referring to them as ‘mirepoix’. None of this matters. Peel the onions and carrots. Chop all three into very small pieces. Slice and mash the garlic. Fry the mirepoix over a low heat until soft.
Grind the meat, the bacon and the pork fat. This not only helps to mix it together, it makes for nice photos.
Add the remaining ingredients into the big mincer bowl.
Mix to combine. Next you will need to line two loaf tins with cling film. Use about twice as much as you think is needed. This is so you can wrap the meatloaf mixture entirely in cling film. Then vacuum seal the entire loaf and tin.
Place it in the water bath at 65ºC for 5 hours. Cool the cooked meatloaf in an ice bath and leave overnight in the fridge. When you take it out of the loaf tin, it will be covered in a pretty nasty sort of pink slime looking goo. Wipe this off to reveal a lovely meatloaf.
Paint the top of the loaf with an egg wash and heat in the oven until the top turns an attractive brown. The loaf should be warmed through. We served the meatloaf in chunky slices accompanied by an onion gravy and some roasted parsnips.
This sous vide meatloaf was packed with delicious flavours and we enjoyed it hot. We also had it cold, a couple of days later. It was equally toothsome (great word) then. If you have a sous vide, give it a go. I can only disappoint those of you who swoon in nostalgia at the prospect of a grey loaf with a tomato sauce topping. That old thing can now be consigned to history. There’s a tasty meatloaf in town!