Wednesday, June 30, 2010
So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided. So my lunch for the week: Turkey & Vegetable Meatloaf Ah meatloaf. The quintessential American dish. Ground meat baked in the oven with a topping of ketchup. I've had some pretty bad meatloaf in my life. They were dry, tasteless, and/or hard. However, when meatloaf is prepared properly, you can have something fantastic. Flavorful, moist, and (most importantly) delicious. I start off with the vegetables. I find that putting lots of sauteed vegetables with ground meat is a good thing. First, it's a good way to get your daily intake of vegetables in. Second, you would hardly notice it all. And third, it actually makes the dish super flavorful. So here I have some chopped green peppers, white onions, carrots, and garlic. I also chopped up some broccoli. I wasn't planning on using this but it was leftover from another meal. I didn't want to let it go to waste. And here we have some chopped red onions and cilantro. These will not be pre-cooked. Instead, they'll be added raw for freshness. So I saute the vegetables up in a large pan with olive oil. The trick is to cook everything in batches. When the oil is hot, add the onions until they sweat. Then add the carrots. Cook a little more. Add the green bell peppers. Lastly the broccoli. Make sure not to overcook the vegetables. You don't want mush. A good way to tell is to have the greens stay bright green. You do not want puke green color. Oh and salt. Add salt at each layer of vegetable to extract flavor. While the vegetables are cooling, prepare your meat. I'm using 2 pounds of ground turkey meat. Normally, meatloaf uses ground beef. But I was looking for something healthier and leaner. To the turkey, I added salt and pepper for seasoning. I also added some bread crumbs (unseasoned), 2 whole eggs (for binding), the chopped red onion, and chopped cilantro. I mixed this together with my hands. Using your hands ensures that the meat mixes well but not overly so. Playing with the loaf meat too much makes it hard and tough. You don't want that. When the vegetables have cooled, add it to the meat mixture. Again, using your hands, mix thoroughly. Now is a good point to flavor the meat some more. You can take a small piece and cook it up in the pan. Checking for seasoning is important. So my meatloaf seemed a little bland. So I added a generous amount of worchestershire sauce to the mix. Ah, much better. I think worchestershire sauce is a great savory mix. Great to have on hand to add some oomph to your dish. Spray a pan sided pan with oil. Then pour the meat mixture in the middle. Form a log shape. I made my loaf wider than normal to cook evenly without drying out. Then into the oven at 375oF. About 30 minutes in, take the meatloaf out and coat the top evenly with ketchup. Then back into the oven for another 30 minutes. The ketchup will thicken and a crust will form. The meatloaf came out great! The flavor was really good. The turkey itself was very moist and not dry at all. With such a lean meat, sometimes I worry about it drying out. But it certainly wasn't the case this time. The worchestershire sauce did wonders for the flavor. The veggies added a nice texture to the whole thing. I also think it added the needed moisture. The vegetables are both healthy and useful. Fantastic! And lastly, the ketchup topping. It reduced and thickened nicely. It added a tangy flavor which complicated and complemented the overall dish. I really enjoyed this lunch. It was quite filling yet cheap to make. I would definitely make this again. Maybe one day I'll try it with beef. Man, that should be extra good!