Saturday, October 22, 2011

Birthday Turkey Meatloaf

(image taken from the Examiner)

Frequently, I lament my lack of culinary prowess; there are few things I enjoy more than a nicely prepared, home cooked meal, particularly those artfully crafted by my mother and older sister. I understand that my rudimentary skills are from a lack of practice, and constantly promise myself that I will make more time to be more adventurous in the kitchen. One day at a time.

Last week, for the filmmaker's birthday, I decided to try my hand at making some turkey meatloaf; meatloaf is one of his absolute favorite dishes and turkey one of his favorite meats, so it appeared to be the obvious choice. He had implied quite clearly that lavish birthday celebrations were not of much interest; a quiet and pleasant dinner, especially in the middle of the week, was a welcome occasion.

Steering away from my beloved Betty Crocker cookbook, the edition from 1969, which proves valuable for basic baking but can leave something to be desired for palatable main dishes that do not involve cream cheese or other packaged foods popular during the era, I consulted the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, through the wonderful wide online world. Her recipe was fairly easy, though a bit time consuming, however, its proportions were fit to feed a village, at least one in a resource deprived area. I suppose the intent is to prepare this dish for a large social gathering; I halved the recipe and still found it to be overwhelming with the amount of leftovers, some of which ended up perishing in my refrigerator.

Ingredients (in the original proportions):
3 cups chopped yellow onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey meat
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs (I used Italian; this turned out well)
3 extra large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

First, the onions, olive oil, and spices are cooked until translucent, but not browned, a task that sometimes requires extreme diligence and vigilance when using a wanton gas stove.

When the onion mixture is cooked, add in the Worcestershire sauce, chicken sauce, and tomato paste, mixing well, then allow to cool to room temperature. The mixing well can take some particular elbow-grease with the paste, as it is quite thick and tends to conglomerate.

The turkey, eggs, bread crumbs, and onion mixture are combined in a large mixing bowl; this was my first time working with ground turkey, as opposed to beef, and I found the meat to have a very different texture and consistency, that tended to be moister and a bit more sticky. As a result, I added some extra bread crumbs, so that the mixture would not be too wet and would be more pliable and easy to shape.

A vague loaf was sculpted, the ketchup spread and painted across the top, and I baked in a large Corning dish, at 325 degrees for about 90 minutes. The recipe advised placing a pan of water beneath the meatloaf dish while it is cooking, in order to prevent cracking.

An easy side dish to partner: some potatoes, quartered and chopped, doused in olive oil and baked with onion slices.


  1. Hmmm yummm! Love turkey, love meat loafs and love birthdays! So this was a great read for me. Thanx for showing us how to cook it : ) Looks like I need to venture back out to the! xx

    Urban art + street fashion addict:

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