Turkey Meatloaf

A short little man once uttered what has to be the truest statement in the history of mankind, “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.” Napoleon Bonaparte sure knew {some of} his stuff.

It’s a funny thing, history. It’s certainly not been kind to poor little Napoleon. Everyone has this vision of him – this image playing in their mind of a short, ineffectual, caricature of a man, when in reality he was of average height.

Average. Not short, not tall. Average.

And yet, History has deemed him short.

Poor little Napoleon.

Like Napoleon, meatloaf is steeped in rich, and often ridiculed, misunderstood and mis-labled history. It’s a wonderfully mid-Western dish. One of the few wonderful mid-Western dishes not fried up and drowned in gravy nor in casserole form, sprinkled with breadcrumbs. Oft ridiculed as a lesser sort of meal (“comfort food” to the extreme), meatloaf is a true spectacle of a meal, one that can stretch for days and costs relatively little. It can be sliced on top of mashed potatoes or layered between two slices of bread. It can be simple: meat, oats, egg topped with ketchup; or complex: bacon wrapped, glazed, and fusion-ed.

Meatloaf is unpretentious. It’s rarely pretty, both in looks and construction. It’s an interactive dish; the only way to tell it it’s right, is to gauge the feel of it in your hands. Is it too sticky? Is it too dry? Does it feel heavy or light?

It’s a mash of meat, grain, tomato, egg, herbs, and spice. It’s savory topped with sweet glaze.

This meatloaf is my family’s history. It’s turkey and oatmeal, egg and tomato, herbs and spices. Ketchup and honey. It’s a hand-me-down recipe with steps like, “Add two handfuls of oats, or until it feels right.”

Like BBQ there’s not a right or wrong way to make meatloaf and it’s often passed down through generations. This is the way my mother makes meatloaf, thus it is the way I will continue to make and eat it. And this is the meatloaf I will make for my children.

It’s my history.

Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf
Serves 5

1 pound ground turkey
1 cups oats (not instant)
2 large eggs
1/2 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat the inside of a loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add the ground turkey, oats, eggs, diced tomatoes, diced onion, minced garlic, dried parsley, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt ,and pepper. Using your hands, mix them all together until fully combined and it feels wet, but not sticky. If it is too dry, add a little milk or juice from the diced tomatoes; and if too wet, a little more oats. It’s not an exact science and the more times you make it, the better you’ll get a feel for how dry or wet it should be. If it’s too dry after it’s cooked, just slather on some more ketchup and honey and it’ll be perfect (and nobody has to know).

Transfer to the greased loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the ketchup and honey. Set aside.

After 45 minutes, remove the aluminum foil from the meatloaf and discard. Evenly spread the ketchup/honey mixture over the top of the meatloaf. At this point my mother would advise you to top it with sliced mushrooms, but I’d certainly never advise anything to do with mushrooms. But if it’s your thing, they’d be good here. Allegedly.

Return the meatloaf (uncovered) to the oven for 15 minutes.

Let the meatloaf rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. This gives it time to settle and it will slice easier.


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