In another life I worked in kitchens. Along the way I wound up a steak house chain that had a lunch buffet. Cold cut platters and various soups and stews constructed out of leftovers dominated until we got an influx, no a g****** flood of ground meat. Beef, turkey and pork, ten pound bags of it. My job, feed it to the buffet customers. It started with regular rectangular meatloaf and move into new territories. I figured, stuff it. The process was easy, mix up the meat, lay it out on a parchment lined cookie sheet add a stuffing (cheese, mushrooms and onions etc.) Beef was easy, pork worked as a filler but turkey was a PITA. I tried stuffing, you know bread, onions, celery and seasonings but there wasn’t enough fat in the meat to keep from winding up with a meat roll wrapped around a kind of solid mass of bread. One night the chef had come into a bunch of boneless chicken breasts. We had a crapload of spinach and he and I decided on Chicken Florentine. We both knew it usually was done with veal or turkey. The chicken sold. And I got an idea how to get rid of ten pound bags of ground turkey in the freezer. It got pulled out to thaw and I started the filling. Spinach, onions, grated cheese and seasonings. The turkey was mixed with finely chopped onion and celery with eggs and seasonings. If you think I spent my time at the altar of Martha, you’re wrong. We had an appliance called a buffalo chopper. It was a rotating bowl that passed through a rotating blade. It was one of those things that didn’t work if you put it together wrong or tried to run too large chunks through it. That being said it could take five pounds of vegetation and fine dice really fine. So let’s get started. Last time I escorted you through your supermarket, that was condescending of me. You know where you shop. First, the hardware:
A food processor
A roll of parchment paper, the store brand will do
A sheet pan with edges
A medium saucepan
A large bowl
Assorted measuring cups and spoons with stirrers and scrapers
The soft stuff
One and a half pounds of boneless turkey thighs, or the same amount of ground turkey.
1 large onion
1 egg beaten
4 ribs of celery
2 bags spinach
3 slices of stale white bread
1 and a half Tsp. AP flour
1 and a half Tsp. butter
Half cup of grated parmesan cheese
One and a quarter plus quarter cup milk
One unflavored box of gelatin
The method. Let’s get started.
Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the turkey thighs and cut them into 2 inch pieces. Put them on a plate and put it in the freezer. If you’ve got ground turkey skip the first step, just add it to the bowl. Cut the onion and put it in the food processor. Zap the onion until it’s in small pieces. Do the same to the celery. add to the bowl. The turkey should be firm but not frozen when you put it in the processor. Pulse it until it’s a bit coarse. Add to bowl. Put the bread in the processor, pulse until in little pieces. Add the quarter cup of milk,pulse and add to bowl. Bloom a package of gelatin and add. Add your favorite seasonings and then a pinch more. Mix everything gently, don’t mush it up. Refrigerate.
Zap the spinach in a bowl. Let it cool. In a the saucepan melt the butter. When it just begins to foam add the flour. Whisk it in and let it cook. Don’t let it get too light brown. Add the milk and whisk until smooth. Add the cheese and stir. Add the spinach. Remove from heat and let cool.
Get the meat mix out of the refrigerator. Line the sheet pan with parchment. Leave about two or three inches over the barrow side. Press the meat mix onto the pan. You don’t want it too thick because it gets hard to roll up. Spread the spinach mix on the meat mix. Use the loose end of the paper to roll up the meatloaf. Slip it off and put another sheet onto the sheet pan. Transfer the meatloaf to the pan. Put in the oven and take it out when it has an internal temp of 160 degrees.
I talk about internal temp. You should add an instant read thermometer to your tool kit. It keeps you from having medium rare chicken at your next dinner and you can avoid roasts running into well–done land.
A hint if you really want to impress, hard cook three or for eggs and roll inside the meat loaf. As for a sauce a nice white cheese sauce k like you used to bind the spinach is nice.
Next week, chili. I’m purging the freezer and so far this week have sampled three different attempts I’ve mad at chili. This one might take some time to make, but if you’ve read today’s recipe you’ve got a start.
See you in the funnies.