Barbecue Turkey Meatloaf with Confetti Vegetables

My father refuses to eat meatloaf.  Period.  As the oldest of my grandmother’s six children, he has put his foot down in protest of this economical comfort food.  He claims his mother could take a pound of ground beef and make a three pound meatloaf out of it.  Well…she did have six hungry kids to feed!

I, on the other hand, am only half as kid-crazy as my grandmother was.  I have only three kids to feed.  But I still try to be frugal.  Yes, I admit, I do use coupons, and I do spend a great deal of time making grocery lists to maximize my budget.  That’s not to say that I never splurge.  But, when I have stray pieces of red onion, a just-about-to-shrivel sweet pepper, and limp herbs in my refrigerator, I feel intense guilt at the possibility of them going to waste.  A package of perfectly healthy, lean ground turkey I got last month has been whispering to me from the freezer.  The small amount of whole milk in the carton, left over from my mozzarella cheese making efforts, needs to be used.

Yep, meatloaf it shall be!

For flavoring the mixture, I decided to go with a barbecue theme.  Instead of relying just on barbecue sauce, I used a spice blend intended as a dry rub for ribs.  For tang, a little bit of prepared mustard and jalapeno-style Tabasco added a zesty kick.

One trick I like to use in meatloaf making is mixing the wet ingredients together, stirring in the breadcrumbs and spice, and letting the mixture sit while I prepare the vegetables so the flavors meld.  It will look like a thick porridge.  This ensures that the flavors get worked evenly through the meat when it is mixed in.

In honor of my grandmother, and in an attempt to use those odds and ends in my kitchen, I came up with this recipe for Barbecue Turkey Meatloaf with Confetti Vegetables.  Feel free to switch up the veggies to use whatever you have on hand.  Zucchini and carrots would be lovely, too!

Turkey Meatloaf with Confetti Vegetables

1.2 pound package ground turkey breast, lean

½ cup milk

2 large eggs

1 tbsp yellow prepared mustard

1 cup barbecue sauce, divided (½ cup in mixture, ½ cup on top)

Jalapeno Tabasco, to taste

2 tsp barbecue rub or seasoning

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

½ cup breadcrumbs, plain dry

2 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped

Cooking oil spray

½ cup sweet bell pepper, chopped

½ cup red onion, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp vegetable oil

½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, mustard, Tabasco, and barbecue sauce.  Stir in the breadcrumbs, spices, salt, and pepper.  Set aside while preparing the vegetables.

In a large sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.  Sweat the bell pepper, onion, and celery for five minutes.  Add the garlic and salt and cook for another two minutes.  Vegetables should be softened but not brown.  Set aside to cool.

Mix the ground turkey and cooled vegetables into the breadcrumb mixture gently.  Do not over mix.  Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the meatloaf and spread the last ½ cup barbecue sauce over the top.  Return to the oven and continue baking until the internal temperature is 165 degrees, about another 20 minutes.  Times may vary depending on the size of your loaf pan.

Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow it to cool for half an hour before slicing and serving.

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