The secret ingredient in this juicy, delicious meatloaf will surprise you. The ingredient is applesauce! The applesauce adds some natural sweetness and moisture to the loaf, and the flavor complements the beef and pork nicely without overwhelming.
The meatloaf is a flavorful combination of ground beef and pork. The fat from the ground pork helps add juiciness to the lean ground beef, but go ahead and make it without the pork and use a higher-fat (80/20) beef. And feel free to vary the vegetables; add some chopped bell pepper, a minced clove of garlic, or chopped sauteed mushrooms.
If you make meatloaf frequently, you might want to buy a specialty loaf pan with a metal rack insert. The rack keeps the meatloaf out of its fatty drippings as it cooks.
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork (90/10)
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3/4 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (fine, plain, unseasoned)
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Optional: 4 tablespoons ketchup or barbecue sauce, for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Lightly grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the two kinds of ground meat with the chopped onion, egg, applesauce, breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoons of ketchup, salt, and pepper; mix thoroughly with your hands.
- Pat the meatloaf mixture into the prepared loaf pan.
- Bake the meatloaf in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours.
- If using the optional topping, take the meatloaf out of the oven about 10 to 15 minutes before it's done. Carefully pour off excess grease and spread the 4 tablespoons of ketchup or barbecue sauce over the top. Return the loaf to the oven and continue baking until it's done.
- The minimum safe temperature for ground beef and ground pork is 160 F (71.1 C). If in doubt, check the temperature by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the center of the loaf.
- Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes and then remove it to a platter. Slice and serve.
Note: If you happen to substitute ground poultry for all or part of the meatloaf, the minimum safe temperature is 165 F (73.9 C).
- For a tangy topping, combine 3 tablespoons of ketchup with 3 tablespoons of honey, 1 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, and about 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce. Blend well and spread the mixture over the meatloaf about 10 to 15 minutes before it comes out of the oven.
- The fat in ground beef does add flavor and juiciness, but keep in mind that it also means more shrinkage in the final meatloaf. Fattier, more flavorful ground beef is excellent for a tasty, juicy meatloaf, but lean or extra-lean ground beef may be used when ground pork (90% lean) is added to the mix.
- If your meatloaf mixture is very lean, consider adding some sauteed chopped carrots and celery. They will add needed moisture and flavor to the lean meat mixture.
- Meatloaf freezes beautifully! Make two loaves and freeze one (unbaked) for another day. If you are making a meatloaf for the freezer, line the loaf pan with foil so the meatloaf can be easily removed. Freeze it in the pan. Grasp the foil and lift the frozen meatloaf from the pan. Wrap the meatloaf tightly in foil and put it into a food storage bag to prevent freezer burn. Label the loaf with name and date and freeze for up to 6 months. To cook the meatloaf, unwrap it a day in advance and lower it back into a loaf pan -- it should fit perfectly. Cover the pan and defrost the loaf in the refrigerator overnight. Bake it in a preheated 350 F oven as directed.