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CHOW Recipe Lab #2: Turkey-Pork Meatloaf

Hey, everyone. We've come up with another recipe for Recipe Lab and would love for you to join in on the fun. This time it's Turkey-Pork Meatloaf - http://www.chow.com/recipes/18901 -- a response to your desires for a comforting, do-at-home dish and thought meatloaf fit the bill -- hopefully, you'll agree.

Take a look at the recipe for specifics, please cook it up and weigh-in on everything (we'll check in regularly too), and post your ideas for improvement by next Friday, 4/6. We'll have the second draft up for you shortly thereafter. (For details on how to participate in CHOW Recipe lab, check out this thread, http://www.chow.com/topics/604269)

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  1. Now *this* looks like something I'd try......but right now, I'm shopping out of my freezer and pantry, and don't have either ground turkey or ground pork. And if I did, I would have had to halve this recipe, as it's just me I'm cooking for. But it sounds good! (Although I rarely use ground turkey anymore for meatloaf, just because it tends to be so dry - that could be your issue with the crumbliness while slicing.)

    But having read the recipe, I'm not sure that 3 lbs. of meat with the "extras" can actually *fit* in a 9x5 loaf pan. Whenever I do use a loaf pan, it's usually a lb. of ground beef and a half lb. each of ground pork and veal. And that *just* fits in a 9x5 loaf pan.

    But I will be very interested to hear if anyone else makes the recipe and can dispute what I said above!

    4 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      I'm def. gonna try this recipe. Also, I just wanted to mention that I usually use ground turkey for my meatloaf and it's never dry or crumbly! I use two whole eggs so that may help, not sure because there are *so* many meatloaf recipes out there. Whats the deal with egg vs. eggless meatloaf? I noticed this recipe has none but I've just always used them, never really tried it without.

      Also, in response to the question in the recipe, I actually use about 4 or 5 slices of regular old white bread, slightly stale, cubed. I like the texture it makes better than breadcrumbs.

      1. re: CoryKatherine

        I use buttermilk to soak the bread, but never use eggs. I think the buttermilk really helps keep the meatloaf moist and the bread helps bind the other ingredients. I tend to use a beef/lamb/pork mix in most of my meatloafs and use turkey ground for burgers on the grill.

        The molasses is an interesting choice for this test recipe. Fun project!

        1. re: CoryKatherine

          This recipe has two eggs in it - not sure what you mean by "eggless".

          1. re: LindaWhit

            haha I mean that I'm blind. I scanned the recipe and thought there were none. My mistake.

      2. So, I have reviewed the original thread, and am a little unsure of the rules. Is the expectation that we all make the recipe EXACTLY as posted [even though you think it is a little dry] before trying modifications? And then make additional meatloafs to experiment?

        If this is the case, that is a lot of meat.... anyone around Boston want to come to dinner?

        3 Replies
        1. re: smtucker

          Now there you go - instead of halving the recipe (as I would have done!), invite someone over - I'm in the Boston area! LOL

          Based on what the original thread says, they'd want the recipe done exactly the way they post it the first time. They'll then come up with a second draft recipe after getting feedback, and people can test the procedures and ingredients again...until they get it "just right". The questions that are asked by the CHOW Lab folks are ones they themselves have come up with, I believe, and want responses from testers on, as well as additional feedback (i.e., "I'd rather bake it free-form vs. in a loaf pan" or "I always use crushed Cheerios instead of breadcrumbs for the binder").


          1. re: LindaWhit

            In my life these days, 1.5 lbs of meat is food for 6. And Linda, let's look for three other people in the area that want to do Round 1 at my house. I have a pound of Stillman ground pork looking for a plan.

            p.s. Yes. That is an invitation.

          2. re: smtucker

            I was wondering the same thing. I was thinking that (since I can't afford to be making meatloaves every night) I would probably just make a few changes to the original recipe the first time around and see if it helped or hurt any of the problems that the lab people discovered. IE do what you think ought to be done to correct a crumbly meatloaf recipe and see what happens.

            ...and I also live in Boston and have 1.5 lbs of ground turkey in the freezer. Not sure you want the girl that can't read at your house for dinner though!

          3. OK so I tried this tonight... here are my thoughts.

            Although it turned out very nice and moist, I have a few suggestions.

            1.) The fact that tomato paste is used and it is only cooked to 150 internal results in a slightly "raw" tomato-paste-flavour. I believe this could be helped by using ketchup or saute'ing the tomato paste in some oil before putting it into the mixture.
            2.) Water is superfluous. With all of the other liquids, this is plenty moist already and the water doesn't add any flavour, so I would skip it next time.
            3.) Increase the worcestershire sauce to 6 teaspoons for a bit more kick.
            4.) Add 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard to balance the salty and sweet ingredients.

            I will try with my additions and report back, but I am pretty confident they would improve it slightly without affecting the great texture and flavour this meatloaf already has.

            1. There's no ground turkey in this country.

              11 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Interesting! "Meatloaf mix" (at least here in my neck of the woods in the northeastern U.S.) is a combo of ground beef, veal and pork. Do you have that in your neck of the woods? That's what we almost always use for meatloaf.

                1. re: kattyeyes

                  I can get ground beef; and can have the meat guys grind some pork and veal no problem. I make my meatloaf from lean cuts of beef and pork that I have my butcher(s) grind coarsely. They haint no "meatloaf mix" here caus'n there haint no meatloaf.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Gotcha, but at least you can play along. Beef, pork and veal make a mean meatloaf. Or you could sub ground chicken for ground turkey, too. Gobble, gobble!

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      I'll play! But I don't think I want to ask my meat guys (they are male) to pass any chicken through their grinders. Beef, pork, and maybe some tripe, smoked lung, and gizzard!

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Believe it or not, I had the strangest feeling smoked lung would find its way into your meatloaf. And each time I read those words in one of your posts, I picture a cartoon lung smoking a cig...like something from a health science "this is why we shouldn't smoke" film.

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          eyes, I know that I often post stuff for hueristically funny reasons, but this time its not for effect. Smoked lung is tasty, inexpensive, and, most important, kind of fluffy as a meat. In ground form, it would help keep the meatloaf from getting tough or compacted. <Trust me!, ahem, ahem!>.

                          1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                            Cali, Colombia (although at the moment I'm at my desk in the World Bank in Washington, DC).

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              So sausage gravy will be yours soon, eh? ;) Enjoy!

                    2. re: kattyeyes

                      Yeah, I think "meatloaf mix" is particular to the northeastern U.S., katty. I remember my Mom always getting it when I grew up in northern NJ; and just recently found it again up here in the Boston area. But as long as you can buy the three ground meats separately, you can easily make your own!

                  2. Traditional mix is IN the US for the most part beef, pork and veal. For about 5 years I have been using turkey mixed with pork, A little dryer mixed with the pork that adds some fat. I love the combo. I will split in half and try. Too much for just me for just a try. But I will let you know tomorrow night or evening after. A few ingredients throw me, but I'll give it a try. I usually make 2 one for just sandwiches. So I'll split and do one your way and tweak my way from what I find on the first one.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: kchurchill5

                      Well in the oven, my post took forever to take ... blank page problem again.

                      In 1 hour should know the results. Made it so ... we shall see.

                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        meatloaf is out ... Tasted.

                        A couple of suggestions and will make something new tomorrow morning as I don't have to be to work until 10 am. That way dinner when I get home.

                        I don't like the molasses with tomato sauce on top. I use brown sugar and ketchup (same in a way) but for some reason the molasses had an odd taste to me with the tomato. Maybe just me but I didn't enjoy it.

                        Also why water, un necessary to me

                        Crumbly a bit, I like to soak my bread in milk or buttermilk as one said and squeeze and then add the fresh crumbs along with eggs. I felt it was moist but didn't hold together well. I didn't like the texture. The wet bread to me seems to hold it together better. I didn't like the dry bread crumbs.

                        Also, NO seasoning. It need serious seasoning. I usually like an all purpose or fresh mix of herbs or a Italian seasoning to add some flavor. Not enough salt, no pepper. Boring to me. No zip. I always add an Italian blend ... not sure it that is right but it gives good flavors. Many options depending on what you are having with it.

                        The roasted red pepper was ok, I use that often.

                        I like to add steak sauce to mine. Adds an extra depth to the mix especially with turkey.

                        Pork and Pork too much pork and grease I would like half and half.

                        Maybe some dijon with the mix to add some zip. It is lacking zip.

                        Also I prefer to cook on a cookie sheet. I make mine and then transfer to a bread loaf lined with saran wrap, then transfer. Then I cook on a sheet. To me it cooks quicker, easier and I can coat the sides and top and makes for a better loaf and you can still slice.

                        Over all, it is good flavor, moist, but lacks seasons, needs s/p, texture is dry, need moist bread crumbs, topping tastes off to me and would like a 1/2 1/2 mixture of turkey and pork.

                        Sorry not overly impressed. But NOT bad. Please, it was very good. I just would use my recipe which is very close just with a few changes for the reasons above. Maybe just the combo of ingredients. Not sure. Just didn't like where I would make it again.. My Appologies.

                        I love the thread and I hope this is helpful and just my opinion.

                    2. Made revisions.

                      I didn't like the molasses on top with just tomato sauce with the mix of the loaf. It was bland and raw tasting and almost a bitter taste. Maybe the molasses caused it. I changed mine to a honey, ketchup and a little dried mustard with some brown sugar which seem to compliment more the loaf.

                      I did soak my bread in milk for this dish and then squeezed. It seemed to give a much more moist consistency rather than a crumbled one. I also added 2 eggs. I like a moist loaf, not dry. This melted in your mouth which I loved.

                      Also, seasoning! I added a mix a fresh herbs from my garden. Some dried oregano and some fresh basil and parsley. (just what I had). More salt and pepper too. I also added a dash of red pepper flakes. Just a pinch

                      I did add 1 tablespoon of steak sauce. I just like the depth of flavor it added.

                      I used for the second loaf 1/2 each mix or turkey and pork.

                      I cooked on a sheet pan, but that is really irrelevant to the flavor. I just like a little flatter rather than in a loaf pan. Not texture or flavor related. I just like a smaller flatter loaf is all.

                      To me ... more flavor, definitely more moist. The first was not bad by any means, very good, but I wouldn't make it again.

                      Just my thoughts.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        OK I made this for a second time using a combination of my previously suggested changes as well as some of kchurchill5's. So the following were my changes to the original:

                        * Used 4 slices of soaked bread in milk instead of breadcrumbs
                        * Used ketchup instead of tomato paste,, increased amount to 1cup total (1/2 cup in the meatloaf, 1/2cup for the glaze)
                        * Increase worcerstershire sauce to 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons)
                        * Added 2ts dijon mustard
                        * Omitted water.

                        IMO, it turned out MUCH better than the original recipe... the soaked bread was much better than the breadcrumbs (just make sure you mix it in well with the other seasonings before adding to the meat so you don't end up with big chunks of soggy bread and dont have to mix the heck out of the meat making it too dense or tough) for texture, and the extra worcestershire sauce and dijon gave it a touch more flavour without overpowering the flavour of the meat.

                      2. Somehow missed the Recipe Lab post the first time around -- great concept. CH readers are a great talent pool for something like this. Looks like I missed this deadline (though Friday is 4/3, not 4/6). Do this for a while and you'll have a pretty nice cookbook. Maybe one of your rules should be all contributors waive any copyright claims.

                        1. I would omit or entirely change the choice of ground to accompany the turkey. Pork didn't work for me (meaning taste combo) and required more binder than I prefer as a reesult. I considered it a fun recipe experiment, but not one I would add to my meatloaf rep.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: HillJ

                            Hi, all. Thanks for your very helpful feedback -- it's much appreciated. We're heading back into the kitchen and going to make the following adjustments:
                            -Use fresh breadcrumbs
                            -Throw in a bit of milk
                            -Up the salt, worchestershire, and parsley
                            -Add in some mustard
                            -Throw ketchup on top in place off molasses

                            Stay tuned for the results and the final version of our Recipe Lab Meatloaf!

                            1. re: aidam.

                              For the glaze, consider some ketchup with Worcestershire sauce and ground cumin.

                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                  Hey, everyone.

                                  We went back in the kitchen, tried the tweaks I mentioned, and it's absolutely delicious!

                                  Here's the final version: http://www.chow.com/recipes/18901

                                  Thanks again for all your comments and feedback. To embrace the hot weather to come, we'll be doing coleslaw come May so check back in a few weeks for the 1st draft!