Meatloaf is a dish of ground meat mixed with other ingredients and formed into a loaf shape, then baked or smoked. The shape is created by either cooking it in a loaf pan, or forming it by hand on a flat pan.
Meatloaf of minced meat was mentioned in the Roman cookery collection Apicius as early as the 5th century. Meatloaf is a traditional German, Scandinavian and Belgian dish, and it is a cousin to the Dutch meatball. American meatloaf has its origins in scrapple, a mixture of ground meat and cornmeal served by German-Americans in Pennsylvania since Colonial times. Meatloaf in the contemporary American sense did not appear in cookbooks until the late 19th century.
During the Great Depression, cooking meatloaf was a way to stretch the food budget for families by using an inexpensive type of meat and other ingredients as leftovers. Along with spices, it was popular to add cereal grains, bread or saltines to the meatloaf to stretch the meat. This tradition of additions lives on with the goal of producing a lower-fat dish with superior binding and consistency.
American meatloaf is typically eaten with some kind of sauce or relish. Many recipes call for a pasta sauce or tomato sauce to be poured over the loaf to form a crust during baking. The tomato-based sauce may be replaced with simple brown gravy or onion gravy, or a can of cream of mushroom soup may be substituted, but the meatloaf is prepared in a similar manner.
Barbecue sauce, tomato ketchup, or a mixture of tomato ketchup and mustard may also be used. American meatloaf may be topped with plain ketchup or a “meatloaf sauce” consisting of ketchup and brown sugar mixed. Another variety of meatloaf is prepared by “frosting” it with mashed potatoes, drizzling it with a small amount of butter, and browning in the oven.
Meatloaf is normally served warm as part of the main course, but can also be found sliced as a cold cut. Meatloaf can be considered a typical comfort food and is served in many diners and restaurants. In a 2007 poll by Good Housekeeping, meatloaf was the seventh-favorite dish of Americans.
* Ground beef, lean, 16 oz
* Flour, white, .5 oz
* Egg, fresh, 1 large
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