There’s meatloaf, and then there’s Meatloaf…

Anyone can combine ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs, seasonings, and whatever to make a meatloaf and then pour gravy over it to make it palatable.  This Middle Eastern Spiced Meatloaf is turkey-based, using the courser grind of dark meat turkey available at Whole Foods.  I’ve found that other pre-packaged brands tend to be too finely ground and mushy, giving no texture to your final result.  Redolent with spices, laced with golden raisins, minced mushrooms, scallions and more, this meatloaf will surprise and delight, and no one will have guessed it’s made with turkey.  To shape a perfect loaf, try one of two techniques.  Either pat down your final mixture into a rectangle on a sheet of plastic and then use the plastic to guide you as you roll it up into a log.  Then transfer it to your shallow roasting pan.  Or, line your favorite loaf pan with the plastic wrap, press your meat mixture into it, and then unmold it onto your baking pan.  either way, you’ll get that slightly crusty exterior all around, and much more ease of slicing than if baked in the loaf pan itself.

MIDDLE EASTERN SPICED MEATLOAF

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs. dark meat ground turkey (preferably Whole Foods, which is more coarsely ground than other brands); 2 extra large eggs lightly beaten; 3/4 cup very finely chopped brown mushrooms (pulse them in your food processor); 3/4 cup golden raisins; a few large sprigs flat leaf parsley chopped; 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato pieces coarsely chopped; 1/3 cup minced scallion; 2 garlic cloves minced; 1-1/2 tsp allspice; 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon; ½ tsp Ras el Hanout seasoning (optional); 1 tsp salt; generous grinding of black pepper; 1 – 1-1/3 cups Panko or whole grain bread crumbs; 3/4 cup marinara (I like TJ’s Toscano Marinara); 3 tbsp organic ketchup; 4 slices applewood smoked bacon

PREPARATION:

Chopped items can easily be combined in food processor and finely chopped together. Combine all ingredients except ketchup in a large bowl and knead by hand until well-combined. Transfer to a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap to shape the meatloaf, and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Lightly grease a shallow roasting pan with olive oil or vegetable oil and invert the meatloaf from the loaf pan into it, gently removing the plastic.  Coat by hand with the ketchup, and then lay four strip of bacon across the top – two of them diagonally across the top corner to corner, the other two horizontally and vertically down the middle, like a Union Jack. Bake in center of oven @ 350 for 1-1/4 hours if you have a convection setting, slightly longer in a traditional oven. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before cutting to serve.  Leftovers make outstanding sandwiches.

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