When I think of meatloaf, images of a Norman Rockwell-esque, 1950s all-American family come to mind. Little Bobby and Susie run off to play with the neighborhood kids, while dad’s at work and mom’s busy in the kitchen, after playing Bridge with the girls while the kids were at school, of course. It’s comfort food. It may seem dated, but it really is the definition of a tried and true classic dish.
Clearly, I thought meatloaf was as American as Apple Pie. However, I was slightly wrong. Meatloaf actually has European origins dating back to the 5th century. It is actually a traditional German, Scandinavian, and Belgian dish, and has many global iterations. For example:
* In Austria, the meatloaf is wrapped in ham before being baked. Denmark also adds ham or bacon to the top of their meatloaf.
* Many countries add hardboiled eggs, such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Greece, and many others.
* Chilean meatloaf is considered a staple of Chile cuisine in areas having been influenced by German settlers in the 1800s. In addition to beef, they include carrots, sausages, and hardboiled eggs.
* In Cuba, they add ground ham to the beef and cook it on the stove-top instead of baking it in the oven
* In the Czech Republic, they also add hardboiled eggs, but they also sometimes add gherkins, or small pickles.
* In Puerto Rico, they include potatoes and red beans in the meat mixture.
American meatloaf has it’s origins in something called scrapple, which is very popular in Pennsylvania. Scrapple has been around since Colonial times, but contemporary meatloaf as is common today didn’t appear in cookbooks until the 1800s. Meatloaf gained it’s popularity mainly during the Great Depression because it was a good way to stretch a food budget.
Fun Fact: Meatloaf was voted the seventh-favorite dish in the US by Good Housekeeping.
There are so many ways to make a meatloaf. You can change the seasoning, you can change the type of meat you use, you can change your add-ins. This recipe here is my go-to. It is super simple and perfect for a weeknight. It bakes in the oven for about an hour, but the prep time is next to nothing, so you just throw it together, put it in the oven, and move on to other things while it bakes. And my kids like it, so that make it a winner in my book!
2 pounds of ground beef (you can do a mixture of meats if you want)
3/4 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Splash of milk (helps keep it moist!)
In a bowl, combine all your ingredients.
You can form the loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or you can use a loaf pan.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup ketchup with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Pour over the top of the meatloaf and bake another 10-15 minutes.
Some fun alterations I’ve made are adding crumbled (cooked) bacon, shredded cheese (different kinds), using BBQ sauce instead of the ketchup mixture, wrapping it in bacon, using turkey instead of beef… I recently saw that you can smoke a meatloaf! I may have to look into that and put my hubby’s smoker to the test!
What’s your favorite way to eat meatloaf?