Tuesday, November 4, 2008

62. Turkey Meat Loaf (with Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Sauce) (p. 387)

As the weather begins to get cooler, I start to crave comfort food more and more. You really can't get more comfortable than meat loaf and mashed potatoes, now can you? I made this recipe on Columbus day after a long weekend of home renovations (make way for baby!).

Rather than settle for the off-colored, industrially-produced ground turkey from the mega-mart, I opted to go local. I got the ground turkey for this dish from Raymond's Turkey Farm, an institution in my town for the past fifty-plus years. Unfortunately, when I visited them on the morning I intended to cook this dish, they only had frozen ground turkey. But not to worry, just as the helpful Raymond's employee said it would, the turkey thawed in no time when I placed the sealed package in a large bowl of cold water. The other problem was that the turkey was pre-packaged in one-pound increments. The recipe calls for 1 1/4 lbs. of turkey. I bought two pounds thinking that I'd thaw it all, use what I needed for the recipe and put the rest in the fridge for some later use. After I thought about it for a moment, I realized that there was a strong likelihood that the remaining 3/4 lb. would sit in the back of the fridge for a couple of weeks until it either decomposed or waddled back to the farm. I opted to just make a slightly smaller meat loaf and keep the second pound of turkey in the freezer, where it has a much better chance of actually being used in the future.

Like a lot of really good recipes, this one starts with cooking onions and garlic in a little bit of oil. Once they are softened, you add some diced carrots and cook them for a bit. Next, you add some cremini mushrooms that have been whizzed in the food processor, and cook them until they have given off most of their liquid. Finally, you add some Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and chopped fresh parsley. The result is an intensely flavorful mixture that adds a lot of texture and interest to the finished meat loaf.

While the vegetable mixture is cooling, soak some breadcrumbs in milk. (I took The Book's advice and made my own breadcrumbs in the food processor.) Then mix in the eggs, the vegetable mixture, and finally the turkey and knead it all together with your hands. That's right...roll up your sleeves, take off your wedding ring, and dig in. Once it's all well-combined, turn it out onto an oiled baking dish and form it into a football-shaped loaf and brush it with ketchup. (Yes, ketchup is a perfectly acceptable Gourmet ingredient.) Bake the loaf until it reaches the indicated temperature.

The Book says that you can serve this meat loaf with more ketchup on the side, but it recommends a Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Sauce. Now, I know that one of the rules of The Project are that there are no rules, but my goal is to cook every recipe in The Book. This is generally a very straightforward goal, but at times it requires me to make some decisions. For example, a few recipes include a number of variations. The Mashed Potatoes With Six Variations that I'll post about next is one of these recipes. Do I have to make the main recipe and all six variations before I can check this one off? A stickler would say yes. I say no. Other recipes, like this one, include a sub-recipe. For some arbitrary reason, I feel like I can't check off the main recipe unless I make the sub-recipe, too. So, it's for that reason, that I went ahead and made the Roasted Red Pepper-Tomato Sauce, and boy am I glad I did.

This recipe is pretty easy, if a little time consuming. You start by roasting a whole garlic bulb (wrapped in foil), a whole red bell pepper and some plum tomatoes in the oven for about an hour (that's the time-consuming part). The epicurious recipe calls for the pepper to be wrapped in foil, too, while The Book leaves it unwrapped and asks you to turn it a few times during the cooking. After they're good and roasted, you take the veggies out of the oven and wrap the pepper in plastic (I put it in a ziploc bag) for a little while to steam. This step makes it super-easy to peel the skin off the pepper. Then the pepper, tomatoes, and the garlic go into the food processor with a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. (If you're counting, that's the third time I've used the food processor in making this meal. And yes, I had to wash it in between each step. A little bit of a pain, but worth it I think.) The result is a bright (in color and flavor), hearty sauce with a nicely balanced pepper, tomato and garlic flavor. It was delicious on the meat loaf, but I've also got it filed away as a topping for some baked polenta or a substantial pasta.

And by the way, the leftovers were great, too.

Date Cooked: October 13, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A

1 comment:

Karen said...

Nothing better than meatloaf! The roated red pepper-tomato sauce sounds so good. Of course, how could you go wrong with red peppers!