Friday, September 17, 2010

Turkey meatloaf with fontina and mushrooms

Count me in -- I am ready for fall!  That's not to say that I won't enjoy the Indian summer days whenever they arrive.  But, you should know that my stash of jackets and scarves and tights (oh my!) are practically crying out to me, asking when it will it will be their turn to show off.  This, of course, has me incessantly checking the weather forecast for cooler temperatures.  What an absolute tease it has been that the morning air registers in the mid-50s but the days are still creeping into the upper 70s.  So, one must decide between shivering early on her walk to work or getting a bit toasty in the afternoon :)

I've settled for dealing with goosebumps on my walk to work, and it's not so bad if I prep before I leave the apartment.  You'll find me hovering over a big steaming bowls of oatmeal, spiced with vanilla and cinnamon and topped with a sliced banana to serve as a kick-start to my body's heating system.  It's amazing how warm and cozy oatmeal for breakfast can make me feel -- it's like I'm wrapped up in a giant blanket.  The only drawback?  It makes me want to get back into bed, work clothes and all, never to let that feeling go away.

But, I march onward to work, warmed from the inside out as my mind wanders aimlessly... and naturally ends at food.  Pretty soon, I'm dreaming of bubbling soups and stews and piping hot casseroles and roasts, things that are practically forbidden in the summer months.  For the next eight hours, I'm well-distracted by work, but as soon as I get home, I'm sifting through the backlog of recipes I've been filing away during the summer that I just have to try at the first hint of a fall chill.

One such recipe was for this very turkey meatloaf, which as my coworker pointed out, he'd never heard of.   I've heard of turkey burgers and even turkey meatballs, but meatloaf seems to be an American classic that most people are scared to tinker with even the slightest.  Determined to debunk that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" myth, I dove into this right away.

Mushrooms first caught my attention -- everything is better with butter mushrooms.  And the leeks, with their oh-so-mild onion flavor, seemed like a perfect addition to the lean turkey, also boasting a much more subtle flavor its cousin beef.  The cheese added a moist and creamy note to the meatloaf.  All together now?  Absolutely delicious.  I'm not going to boast that it's better than traditional beef meatloaf, because I don't think it's fair to compare the two.  I will, however, say that it's different and gourmet and I'll certainly be making it again.  Bonus?  It made the apartment smell like home.  Not any specific location like my parents' house, but just the comfort of home.  And that's a good feeling any time of the year.

Turkey Meatloaf with Fontina and Mushrooms
(adapted from Everyday Food)
-serves 6

A few notes: Per the recipe, Gouda may be substituted for the fontina and any type of mushroom can be used.  I didn't have sage so I substituted savory seasoning.  Remember the conversion of fresh herbs to dry herbs -- dry herbs are much more potent, so only use half as much as the called for amount of fresh.  Feel free to serve this up with mashed potatoes, as per the norm, too.  Finally, I added a video from Gourmet magazine about how to chop and clean leeks, since there is a convenient trick to the process.

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound (8 ounces) button mushrooms, sliced
Ground black pepper
2 small leeks, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced, washed and dried thoroughly
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup shredded fontina cheese (about 4 ounces, but I got 5 and snacked a little)
1 slice day-old bread, cubed
1 large egg
1/2 Tablespoon savory seasoning
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high.  Working in two batches, cook mushrooms, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes per batch.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Return skillet to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil.  Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper.  Add to bowl with mushrooms and allow to cool slightly.

Add cheese, bread cubes, egg, and savory (or sage) to bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.  Using clean hands, mix in the turkey, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Do not overmix.

On a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, use your hands to form turkey mixture into a 10-inch loaf.  Bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving to wide eyes and hungry mouths, possibly declaring, "Yes, turkey meatloaf can be made.  And yes, it is fantastically delicious."


  1. Whenever I see meatloaf, all I can think of is the scene from Wedding Crashers with Will Ferrell. "Ma, the meatloaf!" Or this guy:

  2. Jerry says it looks like head cheese!