Meatloaf is an unmistakably comforting dish — and it has quite an extensive history.
The meaty baked brick dates back all the way to the fifth century, and each country had its own take on the recipe. Roman’s used to use cooked animal brains instead of ground beef and enjoyed their “meatloaf” with wine-soaked bread and pine nuts — while medieval Europe mixed their meat with fruit, nuts and seasonings. Meanwhile, in Germany, meatloaf was made with a cooked egg in the middle.
When the dish made its way to America in the 1600s, it was eaten for breakfast. The Pennsylvania breakfast staple called scrapple is considered one of America’s first meatloaf iterations. Originally made by the Pennsylvania Dutch, it was made with cornmeal and pork organs.
The first modern meatloaf recipe was made in the 1870’s. American’s would finely chop whatever cold meat they had on hand and combine it with pepper, salt, slices of milk-soaked bread, and eggs. And, as industrial-scale meat packing became more popular, scrap meat became more available, which meant more meatloaf and more creative takes on the original recipe.
Today it’s become a staple in households around the country — as well as around the world — with every country injecting a little regional flair into their loaves.