Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tasty (Seriously) Turkey Meatloaf With Pan Gravy

We are NOT health food nuts.

You know that from our cinnamon rolls and our knock-off of The Corner Bakery's chicken pesto cavatappi.

And, our sausage gravy recipe is not for the weak willed.

Since we can't live on bakalava alone - and yes, I'd love to try - we try to get some variety in our diets. We learned in a while back in our veggie research project how different the nutrition was in russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, and cauliflower. And, ever since we've been trying to get a variety of different foods in our diet. Including proteins.

We don't eat things simply because they are low fat, or low carb, or whatever is making the headlines this month. We try to eat things our great-great-grandmother would recognize as food.
(I love Michael Pollan - though I eat some things that would make him cringe. Funyons, anyone?)

This week ground turkey was on sale at the market. Now, I'm guessing my great-great-grandmother might not recognize a chub of ground turkey. But, she would probably recognize meatloaf and gravy.

And, so it was that we made some darn good tasting turkey meatloaf. I'll give you our technique, and you can play around with it to suit your family's needs and tastes.

Tasty Turkey Meatloaf

ground turkey
onions (small dice)
carrots (small dice)
celery (small dice)
garlic (crushed)
tomato paste
cornbread croutons or turkey stuffing mix (crushed into breadcrumbs)
crushed sage
chopped thyme
cracked black pepper
Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350F.

While the ground turkey comes to room temp, we saute onions, carrots and celery - your standard meatloaf mirepoix. In bacon fat. In a cast iron skillet. (The bacon brings some flavor to the party - something that ground turkey can lack.)

At the very end I add garlic and a tablespoon of tomato paste. (I try to caramelize the paste a bit while not burning the garlic.) Remove the veggies to a cool plate.

After the veggies cool, I combine the veggies, turkey, cornbread crumbs, an egg, and the seasonings - including a tablespoon or 2 of Worcestershire sauce. I add additional breadcrumbs as needed. (Don't skimp on the salt or pepper here - and feel free to add your favorite seasonings. I take my inspiration from Thanksgiving, but you can use whatever you want.)

In terms of consistency, I look for someplace between "sloppy wet mess" and dry and crumbly. Mine looks like the texture of ground meat again - but with colorful veggies dotting the landscape.

Take veggie oil and lightly lube the bottom and sides of a loaf pan. (Some use "Pam for grilling" for just a fine mist - just saying.) Then I form the meatloaf into the loaf pan, pressing down to get into the corners (glass pans work best to see the bottom) and then invert it onto a sheetpan lined with a silpat. The meatloaf should slide out in a block. *Thunk*

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour - till the center reaches 160 using an instant read thermometer. Then remove the meatloaf to a platter and cover and rest for 15 minutes. I take the pan drippings and make a gravy using the sausage gravy method.

While the gravy thickens, I stab a cleaned russet potato a bunch of times and stick it in the microwave. Seriously. (I cheat and I'm okay with it. It comes out pretty fluffy and you can't beat a 7 minute potato.) Slice and serve.

If you try the turkey meatloaf, let us know in the comments below.
What change-ups, like turkey in meatloaf, do you like to make?

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