Meatloaf has long been a staple at the American dinner table. Depending upon who was cooking it, the results were either disastrous should the loaf be too dry, or something to celebrate if the texture was moist enough, the flavor comforting enough.
But America isn’t the only place where meatloaf is esteemed and used as a temptation to gather family and friends around the table. Throughout the world, meatloaf recipes have long been a staple in the repertoire of home cooks who prepare it to comfort those they love. Each country has its own variation, ingredients, and techniques that reflect the place where it evolved.
Sausage, hard boiled eggs, carrots, mustard, ginger, raisins, even pomegranate seeds are all ingredients that have found their way into international meatloaf recipes. Transform your traditional meatloaf into something elevated and exciting by taking a global tour of recipes from virtually every corner of the culinary map.
1. Pulpeta: Straight from Havana comes the Cuban version of meatloaf called pulpeta. One of the biggest differences from traditional American meatloaf is that pulpeta is not baked in a loaf pan, but is instead shaped and then simmered gently in a deeply flavorful Cuban-style tomato sauce. Hard boiled eggs are often tucked inside before it’s cooked for a delightful surprise once the pulpeta is sliced.
2. Gâteau de Viande: This is the French version of meatloaf and it equates to rich flavor along with a few added ingredients that make it Gallic through and through. Chicken liver and mushrooms are added, which not only keep it moist and add flavor but also transform ho-hum meatloaf into one with a velvety texture akin to pâté.
3. Sekana: No one knows for sure how old the recipe for sekana is, but what the residents of the Czech Republic, where it originated, do know is that it’s a cherished mainstay in their cooking repertoire. Sausage adds texture and flavor and gherkins give this tasty meatloaf brightness and color. It’s a simple recipe to pull together, belying the complex and enigmatic history of the nation from which it originated.
4. Pastel de Carne: From a nation where meat is a source of national pride comes this decadent and nuanced meatloaf recipe from Argentina. Pastel de Carne is made doubly good because it also includes a lavish tomato sauce complete with white wine and beer. The meatloaf itself also contains beer along with mustard for a zesty kick and carrots for a pop of color.
5. Bobotie: There is so much to love about bobotie that it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters, this traditional South African meatloaf recipe is topped off with a silky egg custard that pairs so well with the sweetness of the raisins and brightness of the ginger tucked within the meatloaf itself, which is typically comprised of either ground lamb or beef. Its flavor profile is further amplified with the addition of chopped almonds and curry powder, reflecting the international composition of the nation’s citizens.
6. Rolet Gosht: There is no better way to bring the tantalizing flavor profile of Persia to your table than with this festive meatloaf recipe from Iran. Typically referred to as rolet gosht, there are so many delicacies in this recipe it’s difficult to know where to begin. First, there’s the spinach, carrots, and eggs tucked inside and then there’s the vibrant red pomegranate sauce that it’s topped with before roasting. The result is nothing short of extraordinary.
Try your hand at one of these loaves.
Take the meatloaf pan out of the equation with this tempting meatloaf recipe straight from the lively, mysterious streets of Old Havana. The trick is to keep the heat low to allow time for the tomato sauce to find its way into every nook and cranny of the pulpeta. Presenting it tableside still in the pan is a dramatic and fun way to serve this beloved Cuban recipe. Get the recipe.
Don’t shy away from the chicken liver in this recipe. It lends this French meatloaf a creamy texture and velvety flavor. The mushrooms provide earthiness and the nutmeg, garlic, and shallots make it French, through and through. Get the recipe.
From the topsy-turvy, fairytale streets of Prague, the capital of the country where Sekana originated comes this meatloaf recipe that’s elevated in flavor with the addition of finely chopped gherkins and earthy sausage. The result is robust flavor in every bite. Get the recipe.
The beer in this meatloaf recipe not only helps to keep this Argentinian meatloaf recipe moist, it also adds a subtle but hearty flavor note that pairs perfectly with the carrots and zing of mustard. Get the recipe.
This South African meatloaf recipe is sure to become a favorite at your kitchen table. The egg custard is irresistible as is the trio of almonds, raisins and curry powder that really make this recipe sing. Here it’s complemented with mango chutney for an added dose of international flair. Get the recipe.
This recipe requires a bit of time and several different ingredients but for a special occasion it’s a spectacular dish to celebrate. The pomegranate sauce along with the complex spice blend contained in both the loaf itself as well as the sauce whisper of Iran, the beguiling nation from which it was first dreamed up. Get the recipe.