It’s December 31st and I’m pretty sure I won’t be awake when 2017 rolls in.
Which is just fine.
My strategy this holiday season had been to do as much ahead of time as I could manage, though this strategy backfired somewhat. I was trying to address the Christmas shopping preemptively – finding the perfect thing, then hiding it away. One of the problems with this strategy was that when I started pulling out my various stashes of goodies I found I’d gone rather overboard. I guess I should have kept a list. Plus there were a few things I just know I safely put away but have yet to be found. Apparently my efforts to be organized meant that I had turned into the human equivalent of a squirrel.
Then there were the cookies. It felt like I’d gotten a nice jump-start on making Christmas cookies and baked plenty to last through the holidays. The thing is when you bake lots, and lots, and lots of cookies the question you should be asking yourself is,
“Are there ever enough Christmas cookies?”
Because the answer is no. You may see box upon box of buttery, sugary holiday cheer and think there is a glut, but trust me there isn’t. Nineteen-year-olds, the friends you want to give “a little something” to, the cookie tithe you pay to your sister for borrowing her Kitchen Aide mixer yet another year, and to be perfectly honest your own sassy self – all those factors add up fast. The perceived hoards of cookies disappear quicker than you can say Jack Brownie.
So enough with doing things ahead of time! It’s New Year’s eve and I’m going to live in the moment (or at least try to). Which means I’ll only think about what can get done today. Snow shoveling, a quick trip to the post office and transfer station, then baking up Rick’s Turkey Meatloaf.
My friend Rick made this meatloaf for the children and me many years ago when we were visiting him in New York. The kids were quite young at the time so I went to the fridge to grab the ketchup, which back in those days I considered a vegetable (it was the only way to justify how much ketchup they consumed). Upon opening his fridge I came across some lovely stinky cheeses along with a hunk of Parmesan, a small jar of Italian truffles, a bunch of leeks, some beautiful tiny dark olives (probably Niçoise), Dijon mustard, and a bottle of champagne, however no ketchup. None. For a moment I panicked. When I mentioned there might be a wee problem Rick assured me that all would be well. To date no one had turned down his turkey meatloaf.
And he was right. The meatloaf was so moist and delicious my offspring gobbled it up without any ketchup at all – just as he’d predicted. While I still serve this meatloaf without condiments except perhaps gravy, the kids will occasionally reach into the fridge for some ketchup or sriracha. Some things change, some things stay the same. Dressed or undressed the turkey meatloaf is always good.
Rick’s Turkey Meatloaf
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 pound ground turkey thighs
1 onion, diced small
1 medium-sized zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 egg white
1/3 cup vermouth
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 – 1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 – 1 teaspoon pepper
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Sauté the onion in the olive oil 5-7 minutes or until soft and slightly translucent. Throw the shredded zucchini and into the pan along with the spices (oregano, sage, salt and pepper) then turning the heat up to high, pour in the vermouth, stirring vigorously until the liquid has reduced in half. Add the breadcrumbs, stirring to moisten, then let sit until cool.
Mix the turkey meats, egg & egg white, along with the veggie-breadcrumbs together until incorporated, but try not to over mix. I shape the turkey meatloaf into a free-form loaf and bake on a lightly greased jelly roll pan. For a more traditional shaped meatloaf place the mixture in a large bread pan, though I’d put a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan beneath it to catch any drips. Bake 40-45 minutes or until the loaf feels firm when pressed at its thickest point.
Let the meatloaf sit for a few minutes then slice and serve. We like this meatloaf with mashed sweet potatoes and greens. As I mentioned it’s delicious with some gravy if you have chicken or turkey stock on hand, or if you’re feeling so inclined a squirt sriracha or ketchup.
Some other variations:
- Shape meatloaf mix into meatballs, lightly coat them in oil and bake in a 350ºF oven on a jelly roll pan for about 30 minutes. Cooking them this way will most likely end up with one flat side, but it is a lot less messy than frying them on the stove top.
- Substitute an apple for the zucchini. Or try a mixture of apple and zucchini.
- If you’re out of vermouth you can try a dry sherry
Vintage Noisemakers courtesy of my sister Heather Caldwell – check out more of her images on Instagram.
All others by Cynthia Allen