Mercury just got out of Retrograde the other day. Although it’s not like me to know or care about such things, this time I am truly relieved. Things have been all manner of wonky.
Let’s see, a week or two ago I got a basketball beamed at the side of my head for attempting to pet another person’s dog. Scary. A few days later my next-door neighbor’s house was broken into. Creepy. Then, less than a week ago, both Maggie and I had our cell phones stolen from right under our noses. Lame and sad. I’ve also had some unusual interactions with various players in my life that have been anywhere from curious to surprising to unsettling. Confusing.
So I’d like to chalk it up to good old Mercury and whatnot.
One great thing that all this strangitude has generated is my sudden re-appearance in the kitchen. This has been a Summer of eating out far more than in and it’s time to rein it in. So I’ve been hitting the Sunday market with much more regularity and getting all stirred up for Fall foods.
Hell, some people get geeked about Fall fashion and the September issue of Vogue. Me? I get geeked about Brussels sprouts, sage, mustard greens and Winter squash. Oooh, and brown butter. My brain starts swirling with thoughts of wild boar lasagna, braised short ribs, hearty stews and the like.
And I do enjoy playful scarves and layering with my wardrobe. So this time of year is really a win win for me.
Last year around this time I was sort of obsessed with meatloaf. I’ve not really had much of it in my life and became curious about it. I particularly became fixated with the meatloaf at Ammo. I was eating there a lot at the time with Uncle Dougertons and ordered the meatloaf quite often. Ammo seemed to be lauded for their turkey meatloaf for quite sometime. Their meatloaf was said to be Al Pacino’s favorite.
Although they have a new chef now, with a beautiful menu that changes almost daily, I haven’t yet seen meatloaf on the menu. I can only imagine it will pop up at some point. Until then my mission prevails.
The only solid thing I was ever able to extract from the prior chef is that he did not use breadcrumbs in his recipe. Well, hells bells. Almost EVERY SINGLE recipe in the world for meatloaf calls for breadcrumbs. The ones that don’t use breadcrumbs mention substituting granola. Gross. So I figured eggs would work as a good adhesive - particularly as turkey has so little fat to glue the elements, and it self, together. I also used a TON of veggies. Why not?
Meatloaf: Version 1
Meatloaf: Version 2
Both recipes I tested were pretty tasty, Chris and I agreed. The first one had no breadcrumbs and the second did. Otherwise they were pretty similar save for a few tweaks here and there. I used heirloom tomatoes for the sauce, which was rich and really very wonderful. Ultimately, we agreed that the softer, breadcrumb-free version was much tastier. All of the flavors and textures of the vegetables made for a creative and inspired meatloaf experience.
I was recently telling a friend about my meatloaf adventures and he came up with a very good idea. He was lamenting that turkey meatloaf is no fun as turkey is such a mild, lean protein. He suggested that, rather than buying ground turkey from the store, get a whole turkey ground to order from the butcher. Clever. And I actually added some mild-Italian sausage to my recipe to aid in the flavor boost department.
So, as I sit in my big, brown chair, in my bathrobe, with my replacement cell phone nearby, thinking (and writing) about foods that envelop one in warmth, comfort and security, I can see everything calming as we move into Fall.
I’m reining it in.
Bat Out of Hell Turkey Meatloaf
1 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ cup minced green onions
1 ½ cup minced white onions
½ cup minced carrot
¼ cup minced garlic
¾ cup minced crimini mushrooms
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
dash of nutmeg
2 bay leaves
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup ketchup
½ lb mild-Italian sausage
1 1/4 lb ground turkey meat
Combine first six ingredients and sauté until moisture has evaporated, then cool. In a large bowl mix salt, pepper, spices and eggs. Add ketchup, blend thoroughly and add turkey, sausage and vegeatable mixture. Mix with your hands and form loaf. Put in greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
2 tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup minced red peppers
1 cup ketchup
1 sprig of thyme
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups chicken stock
2 heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
In a heavy pan, melt 1 tbsp butter and sauté shallots, red peppers, thyme, salt and pepper over medium heat until soft. Add chicken stock and simmer, uncovered, until reduced. Add tomatoes and ketchup and bring to a slow simmer. Cook covered for 20 minutes. Stir in remaining butter and season with thyme.