april 6, 2021
Ask me about my favorite meal. You’ll guess something exotic or fancy, but your guess would be wrong. I adore meatloaf and mashed potatoes, my ultimate comfort meal. Today’s Turkey Apple Meatloaf, with its glaze of apple butter and dijon mustard, is easy yet a tiny bit fancy.
When I interview prospective clients, I ask about their memory foods, dishes they crave but find too complicated or time-consuming to cook for themselves. Lasagna, stews, pot roasts and simple entrees of this type are often mentioned. These are the culinary equivalent of a warm family hug. My parents cooked dinner nightly but meatloaf was only something enjoyed at a cafeteria. Mashed potatoes were rarely made; we were a fried potatoes family. The closest thing to meatloaf was mom’s tender salisbury steak. Those seldom made mashed taters mainly earned appreciation for their turn the next day as creamy potato pancakes cooked in the black cast iron skillet.
Sweet Dreams are Made of Meatloaf
So where did my memory originate? Eighth grade, kid cook making a hearty lunch for my family with meatloaf, buttered corn on the cob and garden tomatoes. The locally owned grocery store had a three meat mix with directions for a tasty loaf and it was easy for me to follow. The mashed potatoes love affair came later when I owned my first house. After work, mashed skin-on potatoes became a complete meal I made for myself with add-ins like cheddar and toppings like southwest spiced black beans.
My favorite meatloaf is Turkey with Sundried Tomato, Feta and Spinach and my favorite mashed potato is any type you put on my plate. For example, Celery Root Mashed Potatoes always rank high on the list. The best mashed potatoes keep the skins on and are made with a creamy potato like red or yukon gold. This goes against common wisdom that russets produce the fluffiest mash and I won’t argue. I prefer my cakes dense and my mashed potatoes creamy and heavy.
Meatloaf is easy because you can toss all together, bake for an hour and relax. Once you cook and cool the onion (and apple if it’s too crunchy or you like a softer texture) and pat the loaf into the pan, the only time you need to rise from your comfy reading spot is to apply the tangy- sweet glaze.
Turkey Apple Meatloaf
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes 6-8 servings
½ cup sweet onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon neutral oil like canola or grapeseed
pinch of kosher salt
one large apple, peeled and finely diced
one large egg, room temperature
one large clove garlic, zested on microplane
2 pounds 93% ground turkey (leaner makes a dry loaf)
1 ¾ cup fresh gluten free bread crumbs (regular bread okay, too)*
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
pinch finely ground white pepper
⅓ cup apple butter
3 tablespoons smooth dijon mustard
* cook’s note: grind fresh bread in food processor and keep in freezer for recipes calling for fresh bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Stir together onion and oil with a pinch of kosher salt in small saute pan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onion begins to soften.
- If apple is very crisp, or you like a softer texture (I like the contrasting crunch and skip this step), you can add the apple to the cooked onion, cover the pan and steam apple over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften.
- Set onion/apple mixture aside and cool slightly.
- Spray loaf pan with cooking spray.
- In large mixing bowl, whisk together egg and garlic.
- Add turkey, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and lightly cooled onion/apple mixture.
- Mix by hand and pat turkey mixture into pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes; mix apple butter and mustard in small bowl and apply evenly to top of meatloaf and bake another 15 minutes.
- Allow to sit at least 10 minutes before slicing.