Welcome to Olympic Feasts at The Schell Cafe!
During the 2012 London Games, we’ll celebrate with meals and stories from around the globe.
I’m honored to have friends sharing special recipes each day during the feast.
The 2012 Olympic Games may have ended last night, but at The Schell Cafe the festivities carry on! I met my friend Rory Clarke in Strasbourg, France in 1989. We’ve stayed in touch all these years and I was delighted when Rory emailed his famous meatloaf recipe last night – just before the closing ceremonies ended! I know I have a photos from our Strasbourg days, but I’ll spare you my bad eighties hair (remember the perm?) and share how grateful I am to have Rory joining us at the table today. Rory hails from Ireland, although he lives in Paris, and remains the only Irishman I’ve ever known. One day I’ll get to meet his wife Gaëlle and three children.
My dad first heard a recipe describing how to make a Hungarian Meatloaf about 35 years ago, when listening to the BBC radio one weekend, probably when he was gardening.
Sometimes you hear about something, maybe a recipe, but it could be a piece of music, or a card trick, and you think “I can do that”, and so you can. This recipe clearly clicked with him, for boy, could my dad “do that”. It became his emblem. Not sure how faithfully he kept to the BBC original, but for years we had Hungarian Meatloaf at home, with its fine light pastry shell, herby, lightly spiced minced meat, and thick orange sauce. It became one of our family’s favourite weekend dishes, usually Saturday, and it was Dad’s pleasure and devoir to make it. He always smiled on Hungarian Meatloaf day: a few hours in the garden, then into the kitchen with flat dishes, dish cloths, knives, hot ovens, funny ingredients…
Then in 1993 my dad decided to head for another world. So sudden was his departure that he had no time to share the recipe with my mother. I mean, how nice it would have been if in his last hours he had whispered the recipe to her, but alas…
My mother recreated the recipe in her own way, using her cooking knack, and it proved equally delicious and successful with kids and grandkids alike. And as we don’t live in Ireland, my wife Gaëlle decided to learn it too, while adding her own Burgundian twist, sans doute! For my part, I decided to take to gardening.
The only downside of the Hungarian Meatloaf is that there is never enough of it. Your guests always want another slice, which means you had better make at least two loaves. Not great for weight, but that’s probably fine after all the exertions of the Olympic Games. To keep down the fat, the second meatloaf can be made without pastry: delicious too.
Our French-Irish take on Hungarian Meatloaf is possibly quite different to the original BBC version committed to memory by my dad in the garden 35 years ago, but being a multicultural dish, it is a great way to mark the end of these terrific Olympics.
(PS In case you are wondering, Hungary came 9th in the Games, France came 7th, Ireland came 41st…)
French-Irish Hungarian Meatloaf
1 kg of minced meat
2 glasses of white bread crumbs
1 jar/tin of peeled tomatoes
Garlic (finely and freshly crushed!)
2 teaspoon of curry
Coriander (cilantro), parsley, salt and pepper
2 rolls of puff pastry, any supermarket brand
Mix the eggs with the meat. Add the bread, the tomatoes and the garlic, the herbs, salt and pepper
Let if settle it in the fridge for half an hour
Wrap the meat in a puff pastry roll (you can also make a meatloaf without the puff pastry and serve both loaves together, a nice duo which guests will enjoy)
Bake for an hour at a medium heat (150 degrees celsius)
There was originally an Orange sauce with the recipe too, but my mother never tried to replicate it. I understand why: it was not the best part of the recipe. Still, Gaëlle is crafting a Burgundian version of the sauce which she may one day feel is ready to share. Watch this space…
Burgundy, France, 13 August 2012 (though before midnight Texan time)