This recipe is very forgiving. You can clean out your refrigerator and add in or remove other ingredients. *See alternative variations below the recipe.
If you do not need to be wheat-free or gluten-free just use regular breadcrumbs in the recipe below. GF people, you will need to use the GF versions of the ingredients below – but you all already know that!
The only brand name that I specify below is Muir Glen. That is because Muir Glen tomato products are so far superior to any other brand I have ever tried that it truly makes a huge difference to use them in this (and other) recipes. Sometime do a taste test by opening a can of Muir Glen tomato paste and comparing it to any other brand. You will see what I mean. It tastes like home grown tomatoes fresh from the garden!
Mix Together before adding to meat:
1 TBsp molasses
1 TBsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 TBsp Muir Glen tomato paste
Add the above mixture to the ingredients below.
1 lb ground beef
½ cup cranberry sauce
1 cup bread crumbs (**see gluten free options below. I use GF bread.)
1 cup onion diced small (dice these much smaller than in the photo!)
1 cup red pepper diced small (dice these much smaller than in the photo!)
A small pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of allspice
A pinch of mild curry
A pinch of cinnamon
Salt and pepper, to taste (Fresh ground Pink Salt and a Peppercorn mixture are what I used.)
Mix meat mixture well with your hands. (Some recipes warn that over mixing will make meat tough. I have never experienced that.)
Place in lightly greased loaf pan.
Mix Together and pour over the meat mixture once it is in the loaf pan.
Note: You will have to taste this topping and adjust it for taste and consistency.
3 TBsp Brown sugar
4 TBsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 TBsp Muir Glen tomato paste (or more if you have it then decrease ketchup)
1 tsp hot sauce (less or more depending how hot you like things)
2 Tbsp Muir Glen ketchup
1 tsp powdered mustard
A pinch of chili powder
Pour Topping over loaf.
Bake at 350°F for 1 hour. Let rest out of oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Note: It will look like it has too much liquid when you take it out of the oven. You will think it flopped and that you made meatloaf soup. You did not! The fluid is what cooked out of the loaf. The loaf will firm up even more if you let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Note: If you wish to use a thermometer it should reach 160°F; however, I find that cooking it for an hour always works and I do not use a meat thermometer for meatloaf anymore.
* Substitutions and Alternatives:
- Apple sauce can be used instead of cranberry sauce OR both can be omitted.
- I usually have homemade spiced cranberry- apple sauce around because I make a lot in the fall and can it. But I have made this recipe with store bought cranberry from a can.
- Other vegetables work well in here; especially left over roasted vegetables. I will often roast a couple of pans of some combination fall vegetables and then make meatloaf the following day throwing the leftovers into the loaf. Fantastic additions! Roasted vegetables can include any of these: beets, onions, garlic, yams, cauliflower, carrots, or potatoes.
**GF Breadcrumb options:
- Set out two slices of the bread of your choice and allow to dry for a day. Slice up and throw it into a food processor to make crumbs. Since I can have Spelt I used Dave’s Spelt Bread this time but I have also made it many times with Udi’s GF Bread.
- Crush cornflakes or corn chips in a food processor (I have not tried this; just read about it as an option. I doubt these would be as absorbent so you may need to use more crumbs – like maybe 1½ cups – or you can reduce the amount of red pepper. The red pepper adds a lot of moisture to the recipe. Also if the chips are salted delete the salt out of the ingredients above.)
- Crush GF crackers in a food processor. (Same notes as above but the absorbency will vary depending on the type of cracker.)