Here is my disclaimer up front: I am not a big meatloaf fan. I will eat it (because really, there is not much I will not eat). But it is not something I crave, nor enthusiastically enjoy.
My husband, on the other hand, seems to have fond detailed childhood memories of this well-known comfort food. So…I make it for him.
As we started out as the newly co-habitating couple umpteen years ago, I attempted his childhood favorite on a number of occasions. It would receive mixed reviews and never any resounding accolades. After many efforts (none of which I was particularly proud of), I asked him to explain why there was not the same clamor for my meatloaf that he gave to his mother’s version. His response came without hesitation (almost too quick, really)…”You never put celery in yours.” Celery? That is it? Oye!
After all of these years, he failed to mention this small, simple, yet obviously, quite important detail. Celery, apparently, is what makes or breaks a good meatloaf. Who knew? Apparently not me, since I am far from a meatloaf connoisseur.
So, I decided to adapt my meatloaf attempts to his likings. Then, I took it a step farther, and tried to adapt them to mine.
One reason that I do not particularly enjoy this culinary creation is because staring at a big log of ground beef held together with breadcrumbs, some milk, and some eggs, just does not have the eye-candy appeal that I like my food to have. And for those of you that understand the analogy that is floating around the internet these days about beautiful culinary images being referred to as food porn, I will just insert here, that no where in my mind can I wrap my head around the idea of a meatloaf image being considered as such. I am sending my apologies immediately to anyone who thinks otherwise. I am just sharing my thoughts on this. That is all.
That being said, I wanted to find a way to keep the meatloaf theme for my husband, and eliminate a couple of reasons that I dislike the dish. Thus, one day I just decided to use my muffin tin as my cooking medium and stuffed each opening with my meatloaf mixture. A plus of this was that it only took about 25 minutes to bake versus the typical 50 minutes to 1 hour bake time required of the usual loaf-like state. The resulting “muffins” turned out pretty good, but I felt like it was missing something. My inherent sweet tooth, calling out in neglect, thought so as well.
So, the next time I made it, I added a little touch of my own. In the bottom of each muffin tin, I placed a small spoonful of ketchup and a sprinkling of brown sugar, then after stuffing the tins with meat, I topped each one off with a tiny dollop of barbeque sauce. The result was absolutely perfect. Even for me.
And the best thing about this recipe is how quick and easy it is (perfect for our busy school nights) and how simple it is to adapt to our dietary restrictions.
For the breadcrumbs, I use Glutino brand gluten–free pretzels, crushed into fine crumbs. These give the meatloaf such a buttery flavor.
For the milk, I use plain Hemp milk.
For the eggs, well..I use eggs. But…I have made this without eggs many times by just mixing and heating together (until HOT) 2 Tablespoons of organic ketchup with 1 Tablespoon water, then (once that mixture is HOT) adding in 1 Tablespoon Flax Meal. I let it sit for about 5 minutes, or more, until it becomes gel-like. This concoction acts as a good binder. However, on a certain occasion where I accidentally forgot to add an egg (or egg-substitute) all together, I found the meatloaf muffins to be just fine as well. Because they are cooked in a compact tin, they do not have a chance to fall apart, thus this egg binder may not be inherently necessary after all.
For someone who does not jump up and down for the smell of meatloaf, I sure seemed to have a lot to say about it. I better get on to the recipe before I lose you all together!
Meatloaf Muffins With Brown Sugar Glaze:
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free (Easily Egg-Free)
- 1/4 Cup: brown sugar
- 1/3 Cup: organic ketchup (such as Annie’s)
- 1 1/2 lb: ground beef (organic, grass-fed, preferably)
- 3: cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 Cup: milk (For Dairy-Free version: use any Non-Dairy Plain flavored milk alternative)
- 1: egg (For Egg-Free version: mix together (until HOT) 2 Tablespoons of organic ketchup with 1 Tablespoons water, then (once mixture is HOT) add 1 Tablespoon Flax Meal. Let sit for 5 minutes or more until becomes gel-like; or just omit egg all together).
- 1/4 Cup: celery, finely chopped
- 1/2 Cup: onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp: salt
- 1/4 tsp: ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 Cup: gluten free cracker crumbs, (such as Glutino crackers or Pretzels crushed into crumbs-the Glutino Pretzels give a really buttery flavor to this)
- 1-2 Tablespoons: Gluten Free Barbeque Sauce (or Organic Ketchup)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Press a small amount of the brown sugar in the bottom of each tin of the pan (divinding equally between the tins) and spread the ketchup over the sugar in each. 1 1/2 pounds of meat should make about 9 muffins
3. In a bowl, mix thoroughly all remaining ingredients, except for the last 1-2 Tablespoons of GF Barbeque Sauce (or additional Ketchup).
4. Press meat mixture on top of the ketchup and sugar, filling each muffin cup to the top. Then with a spoon make a little well in the top of each meat-filled muffin tin and place a small dollop of the Barbeque Sauce (or additional ketchup) in each little well.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until juices are clear. Serve with brown rice and a salad.
Do you have a favorite way to make meatloaf? Better yet, do you even like meatloaf? I would love to hear your ideas and opinions.
This post is linked to Gluten Free Homemaker’s Gluten Free Wednesdays.