Roast Meat Loaf or ‘Hedgehog’

I evolved this robust, strongly flavoured monster when I had to feed a lot of people at a curious school in Padworth. It is excellent for picnics, parties and christenings, let alone wakes.

Ingredients

  • 450 g/1 lb each minced beef, minced pork and minced veal or turkey
  • 225 g/8 oz chicken or turkey livers
  • 450 g/1 lb best sausage meat
  • 225 g/8 oz good mushrooms, sliced
  • butter
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • grated nutmeg
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic, crushed to a paste
  • 10 juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 good tsp ground allspice
  • sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 225 g/8 oz rashers of unsmoked
  • streaky bacon
  • bayleaves
  • branches of fresh rosemary

Method

Sauté the mushrooms in butter until the juices run, then season with salt and pepper plus a good grating of nutmeg. Reserve. Remove the sinews from the livers and slice. In a large bowl combine all the minced meats, the sausage meat, the livers, the onion, garlic and juniper berries. Add the allspice and some thyme leaves. Season with salt and about 20 turns of the pepper mill. Beat the egg(s) and add to the mixture together with the mushrooms. Use your spotless hands to mix this whole lot together most thoroughly.

Oil a roasting tin and place all the mixture in it, moulding it into an oval shape. Adorn with the rashers of bacon, criss-crossed Union Jack style, tucking the ends under the meat loaf. Strew some bayleaves and branches of rosemary on the top and sides. Cook in a preheated oven at 230°C/450°F/Gas 8 for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and cook for a further 1½ hours.

When cooked, there will be lots of lovely juices in the bottom of the tin; save them for flavouring soup, stock or an egg dish. Remove the loaf and place on a good dish. Serve hot or cold with a good tomato sauce made from fresh or tinned tomatoes in the Italian manner.

For children, you might like to turn it into a ‘hedgehog’ by pressing almonds into the meat to create prickles and placing 3 olives at one end to form eyes and a nose. This should be done before putting into the oven.

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