Meatloaf gets a bad wrap. It’s probably the name. Anything loaf that isn’t bread seems weird. It’s like the food called log, balls or boats. I just can’t. But what else can we call meatloaf? It just is what it is. So we will stick with that. This meatloaf is turkey meatloaf. I feel like I am always looking for ways to use ground turkey instead of meatloaf. It’s a lower-fat option and it takes on flavors really well. Burgers, lettuce wraps, bolognese, meatballs, tacos- there are so many ways to cut the fat if we can.
Meatloaf of my dreams
There is a restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City that my husband I often go-to for date nights. The Copper Onion. Any food fan around here knows about that restaurant. Its seasonal menu is always so fresh yet comforting. Some of my favorite dishes over the years have been their romaine salad, trout with farro and mustard, honey cheesecake, chocolate pudding, pork belly with cherry preserves, shishito peppers with curry aioli and the bone marrow. And of course, their meatloaf.
The meatloaf is a combination of different ground meats. I think it’s beef, pork and lamb. They make it the day before and then sear each slice before serving. It gets this delicious crust that goes great with the gravy on top. Add in some perfect mashed potatoes and geez, what else on this earth could I possibly need? They haven’t had it on the menu for a couple of years and every time I go, I look for it. I need to just ask the chef to put it on the menu as a special request. People will do whatever I want, right? (No, they won’t. Get out of here with your special requests, lady.)
My husband had always said he doesn’t like meatloaf. And then he tried the one at Copper Onion and his heart was turned. I don’t know if your house is like mine, but if Dad is vocal about something he doesn’t like to eat, the kids think they have to follow suit, even if they have never tried it. That was the case with meatloaf in our house. I always knew they were all ridiculous. What’s not to like? A flavorful slice of ground meat that can double as a sandwich the next day? Don’t let’s be silly.
Over time, I was able to change all their minds. I think it’s the ketchup on top. Even just the glossy look of it can get people interested. Have you ever noticed what it is about food pics that draw our attention? More often than not, it’s something glossy. Pay attention to fast-food ads on TV. The food is glossy. Like a salad dressing or a sauce. The accent of that is everything. Same with food magazine covers. They are always perfect and often have something glossy. Take my Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce for example. Same deal. We use that same trick with this turkey meatloaf.
Notes on preparation
- Meatloaf is a make-ahead winner. Prep it in the morning or even a few days ahead and keep it unbaked in the fridge. Once you are ready to make it, flip it out of the bread pan and you’re in business.
- To go restaurant-style on this, bake off the meatloaf and then let it cool. Slice it and then sear each piece in some olive oil and butter. The butter is key. That’s a restaurant secret. They don’t just sear in olive oil or veg oil.
- If you haven’t ever had a meatloaf sandwich, my friend, you are missing out. I would have put meatloaf sandwiches in my kids lunches the next day, but they polished this whole thing off before I could snag some leftovers.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 pounds ground turkey
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
- ½ cup ketchup
- Set oven to 325 degrees F. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil.
- Once the oil is heated, add onion, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme. Saute until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and saute until vegetables take on the paste’s red color, about 2 minutes. Set pan aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, add turkey, breadcrumbs, egg and Worcestershire sauce. Add cooled vegetables on top. Mix well, being sure everything is well-combined, but be sure not to overmix.
- Press turkey mixture into a 9×5 inch bread pan, using the pan as a mold. Invert meatloaf into a 9×13 inch baking pan. Spread ketchup on top.
- Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until an inserted thermometer reaches 160 degrees F.