Pesto Meatloaf

Homemade meatloaf with pesto

Americans are fervently proud of their most famous comfort food so we probably won't be making any friends with traditionalists with our version that incorporates, of course, pesto.

But hey, we figure it must surely be our constitutional right to experiment.

To be completely candid, we’ve never eaten a meatloaf made by an American chef so can’t comment on how ours compares. What we do know though, is that whenever we cook this recipe, it always passes our “recipe request test”, which is to say that everyone we serve it to pesters us for the recipe.

When we want to really impress we wrap ours in streaky bacon - and to claw back a little authenticity we brush it in a very American sticky and slightly spicy tomato-based, BBQ-style glaze.

Pro tip
Cooking your meatloaf in the oven will yield a traditional texture, but using a bain-marie instead will result in an exceptional tender texture that we rather like but isn’t to everyone’s taste.

Ingredients for one meatloaf

Mince* 750g
Pesto 190g
Fresh breadcrumbs 100g
Whole milk 150g
Celery 100g
Onion 100g
Carrot 100g
Red bell pepper 100g
Garlic 15g
Egg x1
Seasoning to taste
Olive oil  as needed
Streaky bacon x1 pack (optional)

* Our go-to mince is 50:50 pork and beef which has a 20% fat content. Go ahead and use lean turkey mince if you’re watching the calories. It’ll just be a little less tasty and not quite as juicy.

Sticky glaze (optional) ingredients

Tomato ketchup 20g
Cider vinegar 15g
Pomegranate molasses 10g
Muscovado 7g
Worcestershire sauce dash

Finely dice the carrots, onions, celery and red pepper and sauté in olive oil over a low heat until nicely caramelised, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes before setting aside.

Meanwhile, use a food processor to make fresh breadcrumbs, soak them in the milk and set aside.

Place the mince in a large mixing bowl and season generously with salt and pepper.

Mix everything together but don't overwork it. Transfer the mixture to a loaf tin (lined with streaky bacon if you want an even bigger meat hit) and pack it down firmly and smooth over the top.

Cook in a 200°C oven until the internal temperature measures 70°C, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully pour away excess fat which will have come from the meat. Tip the loaf onto a baking tray and paint with the sticky glaze, if using.

Grill until nicely caramelised. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving or refrigerate for up to 3 days if using in sandwiches.

Serving suggestions
Buttery mash potato and grilled maple syrup-glazed Brussel sprouts
Sweet potato, lamb's lettuce and fig salad
Grilled corn with spicy aioli
Harissa-roast carrots with crushed, toasted pecans
New England baked beans