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The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook: Turkey Meatloaf

I have yet to find a turkey meatloaf that tastes as good as the old standby made with beef, pork, and veal. Alas, this rendition from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook fares no better than any other turkey meatloaf I've tried: the flavor is bland and the texture leaves much to be desired.

Garten says to use "ground turkey breast" in the ingredients list. Most markets have a couple of versions of ground turkey breast; the nearly fat-free kind that says "No Skin," and the 7% fat version. Having had experience in the past with turkey meatloaf, I used 2 packages of the higher-fat turkey, hoping that a bit more fat in the loaf would help its texture. It wasn't enough -- the main problem with turkey meatloaf is the coarse, chewy texture, and using a higher fat turkey product doesn't alleviate that problem. There's an even higher fat product, ground turkey, which doesn't qualify as "turkey breast" since it contains dark meat. A loaf made with this turkey might come somewhat closer to the ideal, but I'm still skeptical that it will have the proper texture. Much as we'd like to try to make a leaner meatloaf, some things just need to be made with a good dollop of fat. For me, a beef-based meatloaf wins hands down in the flavor and texture department.

The flavor of this turkey meatloaf was somewhat bland. I thought it was curious that there was no garlic in the loaf. Its addition might perk things up a bit. If you're looking for a lean meatloaf and intend to try this one, you might add a clove or 2 of minced garlic to the onions, to boost the flavor.

The recipe as written in the book makes an absolutely enormous meatloaf. There's a side note which indicates that the recipe can be halved, which I did, although there are quite a few quantities in the larger recipe which don't lend themselves to easy halving (1/3, 3/4, etc.). I've given the original recipe; if you decide to halve it, just measure the quantities carefully to get half of 1/3, and so on.

I've expanded on the directions somewhat, for ease of use.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

3 cups chopped yellow onions
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups plain dried bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until the onions are translucent but not browned, about 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well (use your hands to get the mixture well combined), then turn the mixture onto an ungreased baking sheet. Shape the meat into a rectangular loaf about 5 inches tall. Spread the ketchup evenly on the top. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, then test the internal temperature; it needs to be 160 degrees. If the meatloaf is not up to temperature, bake for about 15 minutes longer. Serve hot, warm, or cold in sandwiches.

To keep the top of the meatloaf from cracking, put a shallow pan of hot water in the oven underneath the loaf while baking.



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