Growing up I figured most traditional American dishes had to be bland, since the sandwiches I demanded in order to fit in with the other kids were, for every ounce of perfect visual and ingredient mimicry, boring. I hardly ever finished my turkey sandwiches. Oscar Meyer might have been classic, but boy was it tasteless. I craved pieces of deliciously marinated meat, but I’d have too much explaining to do.
As curious about what I ate home as I was about what my friends ate when they were home, I asked one what he had for dinner. “Meatloaf and greens beans with milk and sometimes mom makes cookies,” my six year old comrade replied. Ew, I thought. Washing down savory foods with milk? But that wasn’t what I was curious about. What was meatloaf? How would you ever get meat into the shape of a bread loaf? It had to be disgusting. The name for it was already less than appealing. When I asked him what was in it, he shrugged, “Iono. Meat!” God, who would eat that. If hamburgers were just unseasoned circles of meat then meatloaf was a huge roll of hamburgers. No.
As I grew older and watched all those classic John Hughes-type movies and TV shows, I learned that meatloaf was as good as mystery meat–served in cafeterias by older women who wore glasses to cover up their wrinkles and blue eyeshadow and whose pink lipsticked lips were always puckered up sour prunes. I developed a fear of meatloaf.
One day in college, I saw it on the dinner menu and decided to try it. It actually looked pretty good and I’d just started getting into food and cooking so I’d learned what was in a traditional meatloaf–nothing too scary, and if made well, something delicious. That first bite was a revelation. Meatloaf was seasoned meat! Meatloaf was deliciously glazed! Meatloaf had…vegetables in it? Who cares, yay vegetables!
The other day I was craving meatballs (which are obviously just small golf balls of meatloaf) and decided to go for making a meatloaf instead since it would be easier for me to store in my fridge. At least I thought so at the time; it doesn’t matter. I found a great recipe that I adapted from Simply Recipes. I used ground turkey breast instead of beef, thyme instead of parsley, and just splashed in some soy sauce in place of Worcestershire (probably sacrilege, I know, but I’m a little broke so I wanted to limit my purchases).
So here I go, Miss America, with a turkey meatloaf sandwich…