Balkan Meatloaf

Balkan Meatloaf

Meatloaf has as many identities as there are variations of this ultimate of comfort foods.
In Germany they call it "Hackbraten", in Hungary people know it as "Stefánia szelet", in Cuba they named it "Pulpeta" which is similar to the Italian "Polpettone". And so the list goes on.
This version of meatloaf, created by my sweet and delicious wife 🙂 is simply and aptly themed; Balkan Meatloaf, for it contains many ingredients essential to Balkan cuisine.
Sandra's meatloaf is mild yet with enough of a touch of pepper as not to be bland but without adding overpowering heat. The addition of tomato juice as well as a spoonful of tomato ketchup makes for a juicy loaf with notes of sweetness. The slight tangyness is achieved by adding a heaped teaspoon of each Dijon Mustard and a spice known as Sumak , the latter used in much of the southern Balkan especially in Turkey to flavour anything meaty.
While the center of the loaf is soft, tender and succulent the outer layer, the crust, which during baking was exposed to the oven heat, is as crisp as an overdone deep-fried chip.
I recommend serving the loaf together with oven roasted potatoes, a cabbage salad and a glass of IPA beer (Indian Pale Ale) to wash it down.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Balkan, European
Keyword: Beef, easy
Servings: 4 Hungry people
Cost: 5-6 Euro, 6-7 US$


  • oven
  • Oven Tray, Baking Tray, Oven Dish
  • grater
  • Aluminum Foil


  • 500 grams Beef We used the Shoulder and asked our Butcher to mince the meat twice.
  • 2 large Onions Cut fine into cubes
  • 4 cloves Garlic Cut fine into slivers
  • 1 medium Carrot grated or sliced fine
  • 2 tbsp Parsley washed and chopped finely. If you find that washing and chopping fresh parsley is too fiddly then by all means use the dried variety. Fresh just tastes better.
  • 1 tbsp Tomato ketchup Any one of your favourite brands will do.
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard Dijon mustard gets its sharpness from added horseradish. Should you like a mustard with less heat or would you prefer to use your favourite kind then feel free to use that one instead.
  • 100 ml Tomato Juice We used homemade but store bought will work just fine
  • 2 tbsp Breadcrumbs Use white bread, dark bread, any type of breadcrumbs will do. They are there to hold the juices while the loaf is baking.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil As always I recommend to use only Extra Virgin Olive oil. It is best for this type of cooking.
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper
  • ½ tsp spicy red pepper this is purely up to you how spicey you'd like the loaf to be.
  • 1 tsp Sumak Sumak has high amounts of malic acid, present in all fruits, which is responsible for producing the tangy tart flavour.
  • 1 tsp garlic powder again this is optional because some of us like a lot, some of us don't.
  • 3 medium boiled eggs leave whole and peeled 🙂
  • For Greasing the Baking/Oven Tray
  • 1 tbsp Lard Lard is to grease the oven tray with. Feel free to use whatever grease you like but lard (made from pigs fat) isn't as unhealthy as it sounds and is better for frying and baking than many other types of fat simply because it has a high smoking point and thus takes longer to break down.
  • for the Roasted Potatoes
  • 4-5 medium Potatoes Peeled, washed and cubed
  • 1 tsp Vegeta, to sprinkle over the potatoes. 'Vegeta' is brand of vegetable stock used for all sorts of things all over the middle Balkan. See if you can find some. It makes a nice addition to your spice cabinet. Of course using Vegeta is optional. You could use regular salt, pepper and a little sweet paprika to sprinkle over your potatoes instead.


  • Grab a large bowl and place the minced meat together with the chopped onions, the olive oil, all of the spices, seasoning, mustard, ketchup and tomato juice.
    Mix well.
  • Grease the baking/oven tray
  • First insert the potato pieces and swirl them in the fat. The sprinkle with Vegeta or your own favourite spices
  • Move the potatoes to the sides
  • In the middle of the oven tray place the minced meat mixture and form into the shape of a loaf, by patting the top and sides.
    Then, with the palm of your hand, make a deep groove in the middle of the loaf in which to place the boild eggs. Once the eggs are in, cover them with minced meat by pressing the sides and folding over.
  • Cover the tray/oven dish with aluminium foil, shiny side on the inside. (Believe it or not. Aluminum foil has both a shiny side and a duller side. The shiny side reflects more heat inwards which is what you want when cooking/baking)
  • Place the tray/oven dish into a oven which has been pre-heated to 190°C/375°F and cook covered for 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • After that time remove the tray from the oven and remove the foil.
    Replace the tray back in the oven, this time uncovered, and bake for an other 10 minutes.
  • Finally, after baking for 1 hour and 20 minutes your food is cooked and ready to be served and to be enjoyed immediately.


Meatloaf is great with a cabbage salad simply made by; finely slicing the cabbage as well as a whole medium red onion, grating a carrot and some celery root.
Mix 3 parts oil to one part (white) vinegar, add 1/2 a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, one tablespoon of mayonnaise and some salt. Mix to an emulsion. Then add the vegetables and mix thoroughly.

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