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Just like Grandma’s…

February 21, 2012

Raise your hand if you’ve seen this out on the counter for dinner:

Leftovers. Sometimes that’s a disappointing sight, but depending on the contents of that saran-wrapped vessel, it can be quite a little treat, no? Chili, for example, is an excellent option in leftover land. As is Christmas ham. Thanksgiving turkey. Rum cake (trust me). And, of course, grandma’s meatloaf.

My grandma, Marie, makes THE BEST meatloaf. She has a number of homemade specialties that only she can execute correctly: meatloaf, stuffed pork chops, Thanksgiving stuffing, green beans with ham hocks, chicken noodle soup (you know it’s good when it turns to jello in the fridge from all the fat), mostaccioli, pineapple upside down cake that could turn you diabetic with just a bite. All amazing, and all only perfect if SHE makes them. Of course, her recipes are memorized and undefined, a little this, a little that, so to recreate them would involve video taping her while making each dish and typing a manuscript from the tapes. I might have to do it some day soon. It would be worth the effort.

She lived with my family from the time I was a baby until the time I entered high school, and on days where my mom was out of town (i.e. no one to cook) or just days she felt like treating us, we’d feast on these old-fashioned, stick-to-your ribs recipes. The kind that you see in “Leave it to Beaver.” The kind that always involved corn mixed into your mashed potatoes and 7 servings of green beans. So. Good. Now, she doesn’t cook as much because she lives in a retirement home that serves her meals (of which she highly disapproves – “They put fancy things like ‘chicken cordon bleu’ on the menu… why can’t they just say chicken with ham and cheese? Their soup is too salty, and no one wants quiche as a lunch option 4 times a week!”), but she still whips out the good stuff on holidays and special occasions.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten close to mimicking Grandma’s meatloaf recipe, and I even managed to lighten it up in doing so. I omitted the eggs and used ground turkey instead of ground beef to reduce the fat and cholesterol. The bones of the recipe are the same, which is actually quite healthy.  Yes, I know meatloaf is not a novel or glamorous recipe, but its one of those salt of the earth recipes that everyone should know how to make and should serve to their families from time to time. It’s humble, American, comforting, and so, so delicious.

(*note* Sorry there are no pictures from the preparation phase of this recipe… I made it quickly for myself last night and was so amazed with how it turned out that I just snapped some shots of my leftovers for lunch today. That’s how meatloaf is meant to be eaten anyway, right? I knew you’d understand.)

Just like Grandma’s Meatloaf

1 Tb. olive oil

1/2 c. chopped yellow onion

1 1/2 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 lb. ground turkey

1/2 c. oats

1/8-1/4 c. bread crumbs (start with a little bit at first, then add more to combine)

1 Tb. dried parsley

1/3 c. ketchup, plus more garnish and for dipping

1 1/2 Tb. Worchestershire sauce

2 Tb. milk

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

pinch of salt

pinch of fresh cracked pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Sautee the onion and celery in the olive oil until the veggies are soft and the onions begin to become translucent.

3. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, including the onions and celery, until all are well-incorporated. Go easy with the bread crumbs, using the 1/8 cup first and adding more as you go. You just want the mixture to combine like dough and not crumble or be too soggy.

4. Shape mixture in loaf pan. In hindsight, I should have used my mini, individual serving loaf pans, because it would provide more surface area to obtain the crispy edges that I enjoy so much. Personal preference. Drizzle ketchup on top (I like just a little, but you can slather that baby to whatever extent tickles your fancy). Bake at 375° for 35 minutes, or until no longer pink throughout.

5. This must be eaten the only way meatloaf is meant to be eaten: hot with cold ketchup. Not chili sauce. Not tabasco. COLD KETCHUP. It’s classic and timeless, just like a lovely strand of pearls or a vintage sports car.

Let me tell you guys. This stuff is GOOD. No one will know how healthy it is, too. Not even my dad, who is a skeptic when it comes to healthy ingredient substitution. I may have contributed to his cynicism – I once presented my family with a low-fat banana bread made with yogurt that imploded before his eyes. Now, with everything I cook, he reminds me not to use “any funny ingredients.”  I bet I can get this one past him, AND get Grandma’s seal of approval.

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Baked Bree

Baked Bree - Eat Well. Laugh Often.

Annie's Eats

A blog about cooking, baking, and other culinary adventures.

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