When I was a little girl, probably around age seven, I told what I thought at the time was a pretty solid lie. I blurted out this ingenious falsehood when I was spending the night at my friend Blakey's house. No, that was not her real name, just a nickname. I have no idea what her real name was, because I thought that Blakey was a way cooler name than Julie, so I never asked.
Anyhow, when it was time for dinner, Mrs. Blakey (I can't remember her last name) announced that we were having London broil for dinner. London what? I had never, EVER, in all of my seven years, heard of such a thing. Unless you had an incredibly sophisticated palate as a child, you may recall that at age seven, if someone tried to serve to you an unfamiliar food, then you automatically decided that you would not like it one little bit. Convinced that this London broil stuff would be the worst thing that I ever tasted, I told Mrs. Blakey: "I can't eat London broil. I'm allergic to it."
The fact that London broil was just a cut of beef combined with the fact that I had happily eaten a hamburger for lunch probably didn't escape Mrs. Blakey's attention, but she was kind enough to indulge me and make me a peanut butter sandwich instead. When the dreaded London broil made its appearance at dinner time, it looked so juicy and appetizing next to my ho-hum sandwich, I think that I learned my lesson.
Similar situations (hopefully with less-pathetic lies) probably happen every day, when someone tries to serve a child meatloaf. For some reason, meatloaf doesn't have the best reputation, and we are sort of pre-programmed to dread it. Perhaps it's the shape or the not-so-appetizing name. I never even remember trying meatloaf until I made this recipe. Maybe my sneaky mom served it to us, but called it something else. This recipe will turn any skeptic into a meatloaf believer. Made with ground turkey and filled with minced vegetables, this version is healthy and extremely moist. Turned into a sandwich, with melted, bubbling provolone, it is the quintessential retro comfort food. Yes, it's even good cold. Serve the sandwich with a knife, fork, and a big stack of napkins. Here are some extra tips for these marvelous (but messy!) meatloaf sandwiches:
- Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs, and they are usually found either next to the regular breadcrumbs or in the Asian foods aisle of your grocery store. I like to use them because they are more of a flake rather than a crumb, so they absorb more flavor than standard breadcrumbs. The meatloaf will be delicious with regular breadcrumbs too, so feel free to substitute.
- I like my meatloaf with a little bit of extra spice, so I usually add a few shots of chipotle-flavored Tabasco sauce to the mixture. You can also add 1/2-teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.
- The meatloaf can be baked free-form on a baking sheet, as opposed to inside a loaf pan, but it is harder to divide into sandwich-size portions when you use this method.
- If you don't have ciabatta rolls for the sandwiches, any sturdy, thick type of bread can be substituted. Regular pieces of sandwich bread are usually too flimsy to stand up the the substantial filling.
- If you have a panini grill or sandwich press, you can use it to heat the sandwich and melt the cheese instead of broiling. Be careful to not overfill the sandwich, so the contents don't spill all over your panini grill when they are compressed.
- The uncooked meatloaf can be prepared, transfered to the loaf pan, and then frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to 1 week. Defrost in the refrigerator prior to baking.
Turkey Meatloaf Sandwiches
1 1/2 cups finely chopped sweet yellow onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium carrot, 1/8-inch dice
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, finely chopped in a food processor
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
1/3 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
5 tablespoons ketchup
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup whole or low-fat milk
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
6 ciabatta sandwich rolls
3 cups arugula
6 slices provolone cheese
Extra ketchup, barbecue sauce, or steak sauce (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. In a large nonsitck skillet, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring, until the onion has softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the carrot and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid that the mushrooms give off is evaporated, and they are very tender, 10-12 minutes.
Stir in the Worcestershire, parsley, and 3 tablespoons of the ketchup. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl to cool.
In a small bowl, stir together the panko and the milk and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in the egg and the egg white, and then add the panko mixture to the vegetables. Add the ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, and mix well with your hands (the mixture will be very moist.)
Transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled 9X5-inch loaf pan, and then brush the top of the meatloaf with the remaining 2 tablespoons of ketchup. Bake in the middle of the oven until a thermometer inserted into the meatloaf registers 170F degrees, 55-65 minutes. Let the meatloaf stand for 10 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. To prepare the sandwiches, slice the ciabatta rolls in half horizontally. Divide the arugula among the bottom halves of the rolls and top with a thick slice of the meatloaf. Place a piece of provolone cheese on top of the meatloaf. Arrange both halves of the six sandwiches on a baking sheet with the cut sides of the top halves facing up. Broil the sandwiches until the provolone melts and the rolls are toasted. Spread the top halves of the rolls with ketchup or barbecue sauce, if desired, top the sandwiches, and serve.