A few years back (the '90's, perhaps?) I recall reading a newspaper or magazine article about the rise of "comfort food" amongst folks of every income level, and at fancy restaurants of the day. Suddenly everyone, it seemed, wanted the "simple comfort foods" of their childhoods, the food of the working class, from that magical, golden time and place called "yesterday" that I suspect exists only in fantasy and memory. The article specifically made mention of meatloaf as a popular offering; I laughed at that and said "They're welcome to it."
When my brothers and I were teenagers we were "latchkey kids", though we never thought of ourselves as such or used the term in conversation. The fact was, however, that we came home and made dinner for ourselves and tried to help raise our younger sister (who, no thanks to our sloppy efforts, turned out just fine: a loving wife and mother of two kids, with all of her street-smarts and no-nonsense sass fully intact.) I took turns being the primary cook with my brother Ed; the rotations were based something along the lines of "Nobody appreciates all the work I do! I'm sick of this, you do it!" As a matter of fact I did enjoy cooking and baking (sometimes), and I allowed myself a certain creativity with it (sometimes), within the bounds of our mom's modest budget.
There were other items, however, that I slogged through joylessly but made them nonetheless because they were cheap and filling. Meatloaf, and it's demon spawn, salisbury "steak", were such items that struck me with dread and loathing. The meatloaf recipe probably came from our copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook, which was covered in grease stains on the inside and, eventually, black electrical tape on the outside to hold it together, and was already missing several pages. (The only recipe from that book I wanted to copy down when I left home to go to college, the spiced sour-cream raisin pie with meringue topping my mom made so superbly was, of course, on one of those missing pages.) I recall the meatloaf being a large dark hunk that I referred to as "a bowling ball". It was slathered with bottled barbeque sauce because that was the only part of it I liked, then shoved in the oven until it was overdone on the inside yet floating in a pool of hamburger grease on the bottom, plus crusty, sticky and red-black on the outside from the semi-burnt sauce.
You might not be surprised to learn that I never made it again after I left home and went off to college. In fact, I made a silent vow to myself: "I am NEVER making meatloaf again - ever!" Which is not quite as dramatic as, say, Scarlett O'Hara's vow - but I doubt that even she would be so hungry as to stoop to making that ground beef bowling ball. I spent many a tight and hungry year through college and beyond and consumed bowls of oatmeal and rice in preference to ever breaking my vow.
But last year, older and, if not wiser, then a bit more open-minded with a "what the heck" attitude towards life and the kitchen, I actually succumbed to the unsuspected charms of my lifelong nemesis, brussels sprouts. (See previous recipe posts.) So I suppose anything is possible.
"Anything", at the moment, happens to be the recipe reader Martine Flory sent me the other day: her version of meatloaf using some of the usual ingredients - an egg, carrot, ketchup, onion etc - but held together with ground turkey, which Ms. Crocker never dreamed of back in the day. (Or if she did, she never mentioned it.) Turkey is of course a leaner option than ground beef but is rather dry; here, a modest amount of ground pork is added as a supporting player for moistness. I personally might add a bit of stone-ground mustard to the ketchup glaze; ketchup and mustard can go all sorts of places together and not just on a hot dog. Another idea for this would be to try a more "Asian"-inspired glaze, perhaps a teriyaki sauce with a bit of ginger or lemongrass. (There are several excellent ready-made choices at the co-op.) If you happen to shop at Fiddleheads and can't find plain ground pork, substitute a pre-seasoned ground pork sausage, and adjust the rest of your flavorings accordingly as needed. (Four Mile River Farm's pork breakfast or sweet italian sausages would both go quite nicely in this, I think.)
Martine Flory's Turkey and Pork Meatloaf
(adapted from JENNIE-O recipe)
2 T olive or canola oil
1 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/4 lb ground pork
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 large egg
3/4 cup ketchup, divided
2 tea. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tea. salt
1/2 tea. ground pepper
Pre-heat oven 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a standard-sized loaf pan.
Heat oil over med-high heat in small frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for another 5 minutes.
Add turkey, pork, bread crumbs, carrots, egg, 1/4 cup of the ketchup,
Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to the bowl with the turkey and mix well, until thoroughly combined. Pack into the loaf pan and spread remaining 1/2 cup ketchup on top.
Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink in center, with an internal temperature of 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
Serves about 5.
/recipe-archive.htmlPrintable pdf files of the recipes on this blog can be found on our Recipe Archive Page.
Text and photos copyright 2011-2013 Janice Janostak unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.