5th Century: Romans made the meatloaf by chopping up pieces of meat, bread and adding some wine to it before baking it.
In England, a Haslet was a Pork version of the meatloaf made in Lincolnshire, using ground pork (heart, lungs, liver, stomach), sage, black pepper and cloves. A Welsh version, on the other hand used potatoes, pigs liver and onions.
18th Century sees the origins of the American meatloaf, and in the 1940s it became very popular in Europe, including England, in the post war era of limited food resources. It was a fabulous way of using up leftover ingredients, combining ingredients, using pieces of meat that on their own may not have fed a large family. Some say this was the creation of the German-Americans in the Colonial times, others give credit to the traditional German, Scandinavian and Belgian meatloaves.
Whatever the origin of the quintessential meatloaf, it seems to have lost its popularity a little recently and I think it deserves a spot on the family table again. Firstly, its an amazing way to get hidden vegetables and other nutritious ingredients into the meat which not only help make it juicy and moist, but are beneficial for the family. It takes a few minutes to put together and bakes in the oven without any trouble. Leftovers are amazing in a sandwich in the lunch box for work the next day, and amazing when you heat them up on a griddle and serve them with gravy on a bed of vegetables or rice.
My version here is my twist on it, to reflect my Indian heritage that I am equally proud of. This helps me put nutritious food on the table for my family, still satisfying our Indian taste buds but in a healthy, heart warming way.
When I was putting this particular meatloaf together, I forgot to line the pan with parchment paper. The result was obvious, in that the meatloaf had to be scraped off the pan. However, the stuck on bits were absolutely fantabulous. I keep repeating this mistake till today, unless we have company coming over and we need the perfect meatloaf. The caramelised bits are amazing though, just so you know.
I use Coriander oil in this recipe, which is made as follows:-
1 large bunch of fresh coriander
4 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp salt
2 cups of olive oil
2-4 green chillies (optional)
In a blender blitz the fresh coriander whilst drizzling a bit of olive oil (½ cup to 1 cup) into the coriander, until it all looks almost like pesto. Pour the coriander oil into a large jar and stir in the salt, white vinegar and top it up with the remaining oil. Keep this refrigerated and use within 2 months. Stir well before using. If you want it spicy, add a green chilli or two to the mix.
Spicy Chicken Meatloaf
This meatloaf can be adjusted to include a variety of ingredients. From a bowl of leftover dal, to a grated carrot, or squash. In this version, I used a courgette. It helps keep the meatloaf moist and has its own nutritional benefits. If I’m feeling lazy, I blitz the onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and chillies together before mixing them into the meatloaf. You might just need to adjust the breadcrumbs if it gets too ‘pasty’ though, as you should be able to form a meatloaf with it.
½ lb minced chicken breast
1 large onion, finely chopped (around 1 1/2 cups)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 courgette, grated with the skin on (around 1 1/2 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp Red chilli powder
2 Green chillies, adjust to taste (optional)
1 inch piece ginger, minced
1 tbsp Garlic paste (adjust to taste)
1 cup finely chopped Tomatoes (or use tomato paste)
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1 tbsp Oil + more for greasing the baking sheet
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
2. Grease a baking sheet or tray and keep aside, or use parchment paper if you prefer.
3. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. It is best to first grease your hands, and just knead the mix together as thoroughly as you can, until the mixture looks smooth.
4. Place the mixture onto the baking sheet and shape into a loaf.
5. Baste the meatloaf with some coriander oil and then brush some tomato ketchup on top of the loaf.
6. Bake in oven for 50 mins – 1 hour, basting every 5-7 minutes to keep the top moist and crispy, until its cooked through.
7. Serve with roasted vegetables and potatoes and a spiced up gravy.