Rustic Meatloaf with Leeks and Mountain Cheese
"When I'm asked about my favorite food the answer is surprisingly simple: either white sourdough bread with olive oil or dark bread with butter. But ask me about my favorite meat dish, and I would have to say ground beef in all its variations—burgers, tiny polpettine in fruity sauces, and especially, juicy meatloaf, preferably cold the next day. Meatloaf is a childhood memory. It often appears on my mother's kitchen table and I still fall for its honest, savory taste.
When I make meatloaf, I like to brighten the mixture with finely chopped vegetables like tomato, zucchini, or bell pepper, but for this recipe, I stir in lots of fresh herbs—thyme, rosemary, oregano—and leeks to add a rustic touch. A soft center of melted mountain cheese leaves no doubt that it's a hearty treat, practically made for picnics, buffets, or casual dinner parties.”
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 1/4 pounds ground beef
10 ounces leeks, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 large eggs
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
3 heaping tablespoons thyme leaves, plus 3 small sprigs thyme
2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped rosemary, plus 3 small sprigs rosemary
2 tablespoons oregano leaves
3 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
A generous amount ground pepper
4 ounces Gruyère (or any aromatic hard cheese), thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium bowl, stir together the milk and breadcrumbs. Let soak for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the beef, leeks, eggs, garlic, thyme leaves, chopped rosemary, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add the breadcrumb–milk mixture and mix together with your hands (or the dough hook of an electric mixer).
Divide the mixture into 2 parts, place 1 part in a baking dish, and flatten to form a 10 x 5-inch rectangle. Arrange the sliced cheese on top, leaving a 3/4-inch border. Place the remaining meat mixture on top and form a loaf, gently pressing to seal the edges. Arrange the sprigs of thyme and rosemary around and on top of the meat and bake for about 70 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm or cold, sprinkled with fresh herbs if desired.
Reprinted with permission from Eat in my Kitchen: to Cook, to Bake, to Eat, and to Treat by Meike Peters, copyright © 2016. Published by Prestel. Photography: Meike Peters.
6 to 8 servings