An American Classic Updated
Classic American comfort food, meatloaf is enjoying a revival. When I ask people whether they like meatloaf I get mixed reactions. Some people nod and smile, obviously having it well prepared, but some scowl and make faces like they were being fed prison food.
Here is my modern version that everyone loves – barbecue glazed meatloaf. It’s not your mother’s meatloaf.
Barbecue Glazed Meatloaf
Working as a personal chef, I had to expand beyond what I cooked at home to what worked for my clients. Meatloaf was on the menu, but I had not made it for many years. I wanted an updated version of what my mom made. That’s how this recipe came to be. It’s a moist, healthy, modern meatloaf that works for dinner one night, then sandwiches the next day.
Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf
Mom’s version included the basics of ground beef, egg, ketchup, diced onion, seasonings and breadcrumbs. In my version I’ve split the meat between lean ground sirloin and ground turkey thigh and added finely diced Granny Smith apple with the onion for moisture and fiber. Sounds crazy, but it works great. You will never taste the apple.
For extra flavor, I’ve added Dijon mustard and horseradish along with the ketchup and used Japanese panko crumbs (gluten-free note below) for their light texture. To top it off I use a barbecue glaze instead of ketchup.
When possible, choose organic meats, organic eggs and apple, and choose ketchup that has no high fructose corn syrup. As condiments often have high sodium levels, read the labels and choose lower sodium (and sugar) brands.
When buying panko crumbs, read the labels and skip those made with partially hydrogenated oils. I have notes below for anyone needing gluten-free options.
Mix, Shape and Bake
Simply mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and pat into a loaf shape on a foil covered rimmed baking sheet. Bake until done, glazing with thinned barbecue sauce several times during baking to develop a gorgeous rich color and taste.
I use a homemade apple-barbecue glaze, my “secret sauce”. Use your favorite barbecue sauce, but read labels for high sugar content and bad ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors.
This meatloaf freezes well, so make two and freeze one for another dinner.
I’ve used Gluten-free panko crumbs from both Kinnikinnick Foods and Jeff Nathan Creations. Use an extra egg if the mix seems dry. I also added a little extra ketchup to bring up the moisture. You will have to get a feel for the moistness. Choose gluten-free condiments as well. You can also make your own regular gluten-free breadcrumbs. Find directions here.
Helpful Links to Complete Your Dinner
Baby green beans, you can do a simple version and skip the garnishes if desired
Baked sweet potato fries from Family Fresh Cooking
A healthier, modern take on the American classic comfort food with ground turkey, diced apple and a barbecue glaze. The classic side dishes are green beans and mashed potatoes. To make this gluten-free, see note below. Be sure to seek out condiments that are HFCS-free and have no PHO’s (partially hydrogenated oils), and I use as much organic as possible. For the beef, use grass-fed if you can find it.
- ½ pound (228 grams) ground lean sirloin
- ½ pound (228 grams) ground turkey thigh
- 2/3 cup finely diced onion (about half of a medium onion or 3-4 ounces)
- 1 1/3 cups Japanese panko crumbs (option for gluten-free, note below)
- 2/3 cup skinned, finely diced Granny Smith apple
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon back pepper
- Glaze – 2/3 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, thinned with a little water
- Special Equipment
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Digital thermometer (I use a Thermapen)
- Pastry or basting brush
- Cover a rimmed baking sheet with heavy foil and spray with non-stick spray. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees (177 Celsius).
- In a small bowl, thin barbecue sauce with a little water to a glaze like consistency. Set aside.
- Mix the two meats together with your hands, wearing disposable gloves if you prefer. Then mix in all other ingredients through salt and pepper. Mix completely but don’t over handle it. If the mixture seems a little wet, add a little more panko crumbs.
- Turn the mixture onto the baking sheet and form into a compact, smooth loaf, like an oval loaf of bread. When the loaf is formed, pour a little glaze from the bowl onto the loaf and distribute with pastry brush. Don’t dip the brush into the glaze then onto the meat as you contaminate the glaze with the raw meat.
- Place the meatloaf in the oven and bake, brushing several times during baking with the glaze. Meatloaf is done when it reaches 165 degrees (74 celsius), about 30-40 minutes. Mine takes 30 minutes in a convection oven. Test with a digital thermometer.
- Allow to cool a bit, slice and enjoy. Drizzle with a little more of the leftover sauce if desired.
- Note: you can also make individual mini meatloaves by dividing the meat mixture into 4 small loaves. These will bake more quickly, so watch your timing.