Friday, March 28, 2008

Turkey Meatloaf

I must admit I had never eaten meatloaf until last weekend. There are several explanations for this – I was a vegetarian for much of my adolescence and young adulthood, it was not part of my parents’ African-influenced Gujarati diet, and it never seemed like a particularly desirable thing to eat. The thought of a ground meat, breadcrumb and ketchup loaf conjured up images of All in the Family and Roseanne, neither of which I associated with nutritious or flavorful cuisine. Besides, we had our own humble food – kitchri, a rice and lentil comfort food that my mom served often enough. Above all else, how could I take seriously a food selected as the stage name of a pitiable rock star?

While the origin of American meatloaf is disputed, the dish became popular as raw ground meat become widely available in supermarkets and home refrigeration became ubiquitous. Like meatballs and sausages, meatloaf utilizes meat scraps and leftovers which are much more affordable than prime cuts. In addition, cereal and vegetable fillers “stretch” the meat so that it can feed more people - this made meatloaf especially popular during the Great Depression.
This loaf provided us with dinner for two nights (it reheats well) as well as one sandwich (a wrap stuffed with meatloaf, lettuce and hummus). I was pleasantly surprised by our invention, inspired by the recipe that my boyfriend’s Grandma Ruth made for him as a child. My friend Michelle’s mom uses rosemary in her meatloaf, which apparently imparts a lovely taste and fragrance. Meatloaf is also very healthy - lowfat meat, vegetables, and a little bit of carbs. How can you go wrong?

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 pound ground lean turkey
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats or gluten-free bread crumbs
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (optional)
1/2 cup carrots, grated (optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon poultry rub
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
16 ounces (1 can) crushed tomatoes
4 ounces (1 can) tomato paste
2 eggs, slightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Over medium heat, sauté garlic in oil until fragrant. Add onion and sauté until translucent.
3. In a separate bowl, mix all remaining ingredients except eggs.
4. Add cooled onions and eggs to the turkey mixture and transfer to an 8 x 11 glass casserole dish. Shape into a loaf by firming mixture away from the edges (see the last photo above). You can also bake it in a 9 x 5 metal loaf pan.
5. Bake for 90 minutes or until edges are brown. Cool for 5 or 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Dee & Chai said...

Love Turkey but have not tasted meatloaf before. Your recipe is interesting!

Anonymous said...

You might also try forming the mixture into a loaf and placing it on a rimmed baking sheet to bake. Excess fat will drain out while it's in the oven (instead of pooling in the bottom of the loaf pan), and even better, the entire outside of the loaf will get slightly crisped and brown. I always think the ends of meat loaf are best because they're a little browned, and on a baking sheet, every piece turns out this way. Thanks for all the great recipes! -- Celeste (Preeta's friend)

Anonymous said...

Tastes of AKR yesterday when I served my family a most delicious turkey meatloaf -- the first time I'd ever made it, and possibly the first time I'd ever eaten it. While it didn't hold its shape (what did I do wrong?), it more than met expectations for taste. Everyone liked it.

This is also the first of your recipes I've made. I greatly appreciated how easy you made it sound to make -- which turned out to be the case.


Anonymous said...

Now that the worst excesses of the winter semester are over and I find myself with a quiet weekend, I have time to dwell on the loveliness of your Treat a
Week blog. I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful job you're doing with this site-- I always love reading it, especially the narratives you attach to every dish. We are also huge sticky toffee pudding fans-- my fiance fell in love with it when he had it at the Ivy-- and we recreated it for Christmas a few years ago (actually John and his mom recreated it; i just enjoyed it) and we were also very surprised to discover dates as the key ingredient.

This week you've done a great job convincing me to give meatloaf a second chance. I particularly enjoy in when you weave the food's history together with your own
life and experiences.