The very first time I had meatloaf, I was in university. It seems late, I know, for a first taste of something so many consider comfort food. Meatloaf can be inconvenient, time-consuming, requiring far more preparation and effort than my mother, a hard working dairy farmer, had the patience for. Meatloaf may be a classic, but it’s certainly not quick and easy.
So, the first time I had meatloaf, I was in university. My best friend and I had decided to step into cliched roles for a night, taking over my boyfriend’s kitchen to make dinner for the house of five guys. She brought the recipes, each one carefully selected from a ginormous binder of family recipes, passed down from the kitchens of her grandmother, aunts, and mom. Meatloaf, bread casserole, a salad to round it all out. That meatloaf blew me away.
Of course, I demanded the recipe. She happily, carefully, wrote it out on a little square note card. I promptly tucked it away someplace safe and lost it. Years later, I found it again, during some move or other and, in a fit of proper organization and determination to not lose it again, paperclipped it to a page of my recipe book and wrote it down in my own hand for extra reassurance.
And yet, I didn’t make it. It turned out I kind of agree with my mom – meatloaf is inconvenient for more than one reason. 1) We buy our ground meat frozen. Defrosting it enough to mix is a pain. It’s far easier to defrost it halfway, then cook the rest of the cold out of it. 2) Meatloaf takes a really long time to bake. An hour and 20 minutes for this recipe! That means making it requires plenty of foresight so I can start on time so we can eat before bedtime.
But, this recipe is good. Like, really good. So, when Isabel went down for her third nap of the day at 3:30, and I had actually managed to clean my kitchen so that it was in perfect cooking condition during her earlier nap, and since I actually had all the necessary ingredients, I pulled out that little note card and followed my best friend’s instructions.
Jen’s BBQ Meatloaf
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/8 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
Mix together in a small bowl and set aside.
1 lb ground turkey
1 small-medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp Montreal chicken seasoning
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
Mix together all of the meatloaf ingredients. Press into a loaf pan, a 9 by 9 dish, or, like I did, split up between two small casserole dishes.
(If desired, and if your family is small enough to be satisfied with just 1/2 lb of meatloaf, freeze one of those casserole dishes. This is the perfect thing to tuck away in your freezer for whenever you might need something to throw in your oven with no prep.)
Pour the sauce over the meatloaf.
Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and 20 minutes, or until fully cooked.