Recipe: Apple-Glazed Italian Meatloaf (Polpettone con Salsa di Mele)


If you're looking for American-style ketchup meatloaf, this isn't it.

By: Jerry Finzi, Grand Voyage Italy

When I was a child, my mother would make meatloaf: plain, American-style, ketchup-covered meatloaf. But after learning of the various types of polpettone (Italian meatloaves) they make in Italy, I wanted something more tasty and a bit spicy. So, here’s my Polpettone con Salsa di Mele.

For the Polpettone 

1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (honey wheat), cubed
1 cup cinnamon applesauce (of course, you can make your own)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef, extra lean
1 pound ground pork

For the Glaze

1 cup cinnamon applesauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce (apple maple)
20 “cracks” of freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Finely chop onion and then sauté in canola oil until onions start to caramelize and brown in color. If it looks like they are burning, add a tablespoon of water to the pan as needed until they are a nutty brown color.
  • Put ground beef and pork in mixing bowl, then add salt. Gently mix the two meats together.
  • In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, pepper, egg, onions, one (1) cup of applesauce and mix well (gently toss).
  • Add the breadcrumb mixture into the meat and gently mix until combined. Do not over mix.
  • Shape the mixture into a metal loaf pan, rounding over the sides to come away from the pan’s sides. Do NOT cover with foil.
  • Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes to create a crust, then turn down the oven to 350 F and bake for 1-1/2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, make the glaze…Combine the remaining 1 cup applesauce, cider vinegar, mustard and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Crack the pepper into the mix. Heat and stir until blended and the brown sugar is incorporated.
  • After the first half hour of bake time, spoon some of the apple glaze over the top of the meatloaf to coat it.
  • If needed, brush the top of the meatloaf with some glaze, reserving some for a topping.
  • If there seems to be too much moisture around the sides of the pan, use a turkey baster to remove some liquid. If too dry, add more glaze.
  • Let meatloaf sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Serve with some of the glaze on top of each slice, with a side of either potato croquettes or homemade spätzle (like they make in the Alto Aldige region of Northern Italy).

Of course, best served with a bottle of Italian sparkling cider.

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