Updated August 13, 2016.
When you think of quintessential comfort food, gluten free meatloaf is at the top of the list.
Mistakenly perceived as ordinary, meatloaf is as international as it is ethnic. With a long history, its origins are obscure and the coveted formulas and techniques are guarded family secrets.
Yet, all these recipes have a common basis; finely chopped or ground meat mixed with binder ingredients and molded into a functional shape.
In lean economic times, meatloaf became a go-to frugal dish, a harbinger of the less prized meat odds and ends, the leavings of home butchering. This meat mixture was filled with stale bread cubes, stale cornbread or cracker crumbs, and with whatever else was at hand to stretch precious food resources.
Like the perpetual soup pot simmering on the back of the stove, meatloaf was a receptacle for the unwanted, cleverly disguising cooked again leftovers.
During the late 19th century through the mid-20th century, meatloaf came into its own in the USA as a weeknight family meal and a diner blue plate special. Topped with ketchup, Chile sauce or left over gravy, a typical meatloaf dinner with sides of mashed potatoes and boiled green beans became a classic comfort food.
I remember growing up with the mid-century meatloaf culture. We’d have meatloaf for dinner. Breakfast the next morning might be a thin slice of fried meatloaf topped with a fried egg and a piece of buttered toast. At school lunch I’d open my brown bag to find a cold meatloaf sandwich. An afterschool snack might consist of a cube of meatloaf and a cookie with a glass of milk.
I didn’t mind. Leftover meatloaf always tasted better, hot or cold.
By the latter 20th century, meatloaf fell out of favor, only to make a slow come back early in the 21st century.
This old-time family favorite has been rediscovered and re-invented.
Packed with nutrition, infused with incredible new tastes and artfully molded, meatloaf has become a one-meal package, a convenient travel food and a pricey gourmet delight.
While it took me a number of years to come up with the right combination of ingredients and seasonings, I developed a gluten-free version of the back-to-basics recipe. This delicious meatloaf has the crusty texture and savory flavors of the old-time favorite we know and love.
For a wonderfully nutritious meal serve with parsnip slices sautéed in butter and coleslaw tossed in a classic coleslaw dressing.
Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10