If there was ever such a thing as the Golden Age of Meatloaf, then it passed me by. Of course, that may be because it was less a staple of the Anglo-Jewish than the American-Jewish, indeed all-American, household. There are those who claim meatloaf is one of that country's greatest gifts to gastronomy - that may be taking it a bit far, but it certainly has iconic comfort food status.
It's a mom's apple pie, a Hooper painting, a novel by Roth or Bellow, a Gershwin tune - and when I make it, I always get mad that my immigrant ancestors got off the boat in Newcastle, not New York. Some mistake, bubbe!
Not that Tyneside was anything other than kind and welcoming to them, but I always had a secret yen to have been raised on seltzers and knishes. Meatloaf is part of the Great American mythology like prom queens, drive-in movies and soda jerks, and to capture the mood, I eat it watching Mad Men re-runs.
For a loaf that is meaty not mealy, mix by hand or with a wooden spoon. I cannot compete with the taste of nostalgia, so I have included pine nuts for crunch, red chilis for kick, garlic for spice and fresh parsley for, well, freshness. It's going in my next great, unwritten cookbook: "Mince Around the World".
● 1 kg minced beef
● 1 large onion grated
● 2 large garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
● 2 large eggs
● 25g fresh parsley, chopped
● 2 tsp salt, or to taste
● 6 grinds of crushed, dried chillies (or a large pinch of cayenne)
● 2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
● 4 tbsp medium matzah meal
● 2 tbsp tomato chutney
● Place all the ingredients except the chutney in a bowl and mix together with your hands or a large wooden spoon or fork until evenly but just combined.
● Turn the mixture into a non-stick loaf tin, packing it down well.
● Cover and place in the fridge for several hours.
● Bake in a pre-heated 180°C/350°F oven for an hour.
● Brush the top of the meatloaf with the tomato chutney (or use tomato paste mixed with a little olive oil) and bake for 15 minutes more.
● Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes while you have a dry Martini and imagine that Don Draper (Draperstein, surely?) is sitting across the table.
● Pour off any excess fat, turn out and serve with baked or mashed potatoes.
● Slice in the pan, if the turning out bit seems a bit fraught.
● It is even better cold.