What to do
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with a layer of foil and then a layer of baking paper.
2. Combine the beef and pork mince in a large bowl. Sprinkle on the smoked paprika, then use your hands to mash it all together. Set aside.
3. Remove any straggly bits from the roots of the leeks, but leave their ends intact. Precook them by blasting them in the microwave on high power for 3 minutes, then trim off the sealed root end and trim the greener end so they will fit lengthways into a loaf tin. (What do you mean you don’t have a loaf tin? It’ll only cost you $12 from your local big supermarket. Get a silicon one… they are well worth it!)
4. Now you’ve got a loaf tin you’d better cut a length of baking paper to line it crossways, with a bit of paper long enough so there’s some overhang on each long side.
5. Heat a splash of oil in a small frying pan and cook the onion until it starts to soften. Add the bacon and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
6. Push the mince to one side of its bowl and tip the onion mixture into the other side.
7. Deglaze the frying pan with the muscat and simmer until it has reduced and is syrupy. Scrape onto the onion. Now throw the breadcrumbs into the bowl too and start mashing everything up with your hands. Crack in the egg, add the cubes of cheese and continue squishing everything together. Stop the second it starts to feel sticky. To check the seasoning, pan-fry a small ball of the mixture in your oniony pan. Taste and adjust the levels of salt or smoked paprika accordingly. Fry another one – after all you have to make sure you are happy with the new balance.
8. Now to shape the meatloaf: wet your hands and press half the mixture into the base of the loaf tin, on top of the baking paper lining. Carefully peel away the two tough outer leaves from the leeks and discard them. Lay the inner leeks along the surface of the meatloaf mixture. Cover them with the rest of the mixture and press down. Next, using the baking paper to help you, turn the neatly shaped meatloaf out onto the prepared baking tray. Check the proportions of the loaf, shaping it with your wet hands to ensure that it is even. Push in any cheese squares that are poking out. Now, into the oven it goes for 30 minutes.
9. While the meatloaf is baking, make the glaze. Pour all the ingredients into a saucepan, bring to a simmer and let it thicken a little. As it thickens be careful not to let it burn. Add more sugar or smoked paprika if need be. The sauce should taste like something a guy with sidies and an 8-track in his panel van would enjoy.
10. After 30 minutes, remove the meatloaf from the oven and pour the thickened glaze over the top. Spread it on thickly, allowing some of the glaze to ooze down the sides. Return the meatloaf to the oven for a further 45-60 minutes, or until cooked through. If you’re checking with a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should reach 65°C.
11. When the meatloaf is cooked, remove the loaf from the oven and set it aside to rest for 5 minutes. Carve into slices with a serrated knife and serve with some of the burny ooze cheese and crusty glaze scrapings from around the baking tray. Cherish it.
Recipe from The Simple Secrets to Cooking Everything Better by Matt Preston, published by PLUM, RRP $39.99
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