Like Whitney Houston sings in the movie The Bodyguard, "I will always love you". In my case I am referring to meatloaf rather than Kevin Costner, but the sentiment remains the same. And by 'meatloaf' I mean the food, not the bloated singer.
I really do love meatloaf.
I'm sure it's a cultural thing; Growing up, our family of seven ate a lot of loaves. Ham loaf was a favourite. When my mother became vegan and created 'nut loaf' in the '70s... well, she only prepared that once.
But even if meatloaf is not your thing, this one may convert you. The trick is in two secret ingredients; one very old school and one more gourmet. Dry onion soup mix is a classic way to punch up the beefy flavour of meatloaf, but a few teaspoons of pulverized dry Porcini mushrooms is an additional way to amp up flavour (without being at all pronounced). If you can not find onion soup mix (as most will not be able to in Europe), substitute 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules, and if you have them on hand, a couple of tablespoons of dried onions.
1/2 cup good quality bread or cracker crumbs (crushed Ritz crackers are lush)
1 big squeeze of tomato ketchup or tomato paste (puree in the UK)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 packet dry onion soup mix
2 teaspoons dried Porcini mushrooms (whiz up a few dry mushrooms in a clean coffee grinder or food processor until it is powdered)
1) Chuck everything in a resealable bag and squish all around to combine completely. Set in the refrigerator for 1-6 hours (if you have the time, otherwise, cook straight away).
2) Pre-heat the oven to 350F (175C). Push the meat mix into a loaf pan and bake until the loaf has pulled away from the sides of the pan and is firm to the touch (very roughly, 45 minutes to an hour). Allow the meatloaf to stand out of the oven for 10-15 minutes, then slices into thick slabs and serve hot with mashed potatoes and green beans. Make fabulous 1970's meatloaf sandwiches with the left-overs. Serioulsy- so good cold.