This month I am hosting book club at my house. It is scheduled for November 16 (next week). Since book club was so close to Turkey Day I thought I’d modify typical Thanksgiving day fare for my book club girls. Here’s my thing. One year, longer ago than I care to admit, I made Thanksgiving dinner for Josh and his roommate. I basted and cooked and stuffed this turkey until I was literally passed out on the couch from exhaustion! After all this labor, I realized that turkey is a ridiculous amount of work and it isn’t even my favorite part of the meal! Seems stupid to me to work yourself to death for something you don’t really love anyway. So my mind started working on how to modify turkey for those of us that really couldn’t care less about the stupid bird! That’s when I thought of turkey meatloaf. I make a very typical turkey meatloaf pretty regularly but what if THIS meatloaf was Thanksgiving style???? And what if this “turkey” was still stuffed and had all the fixins but modified to be just a bit healthier!?!? Genius or madness? I’ll let you decide. What I will say is that this blog pre-dates my book club because I didn’t want to subject a whole room of people to something that could turn out disastrously!
This dinner has several parts to it and while most of my blog posts don’t usually take very long to make, this is definitely a Sunday nighter because it takes a bit longer.
1 loaf bread
1 stick butter
3 stalks celery plus all the leafy parts of the stalk, chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
½ of a 0.6 oz container ground sage
1½ Tbsp. pepper
1 Tbsp salt
16 oz. chicken stock, approximately
Toast the slices of bread until they are pretty dry but not crumbly (oven works best for this). Meanwhile, melt your butter with all the celery and onion in a small sauce pan. Stir, cooking over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Tear the bread slices into ½ inch size pieces, but don’t worry about uniformity. Put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle with ½ the salt and pepper and ¼ of the sage. Toss it around and sprinkle the rest of the salt and pepper and another ¼ of the sage. Pour the veggies and butter over the bread, stir around and add the rest of the sage. Add chicken stock incrementally until the consistency of the bread is quite soft. This will likely come out to around 16 oz. Let this sit in a 7x10” pan for several hours to let the flavors marry. Later bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
*This is my mom’s recipe for stuffing, which was probably my grandma’s or my Aunt Sis’ and will always be my favorite!
Cranberry Fig – Real Simple Magazine
5 oz. dried mission figs, chopped roughly
1/3 cup honey
¼ tsp. Allspice
*RS calls for Cardamom but this stuff is unreal expensive
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup orange juice
*I added this because I thought it was too thick at the end
Put all the kids into the pool (except the orange juice), bring to a boil. Stir then bring the heat to low and stir frequently until is a consistency you like and the cranberries are bursting. Stir in the orange juice and let sit at room temperature until dinner time.
Meagz Turkey Meatloaf
1 package ground turkey
*They’re usually just over a pound
Just more than 1/8 cup fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage) chopped very fine
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1/3 cup mushroom gravy (fresh from Whole Foods)
½ tsp ground sage
2 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped fine
¼ of medium onion, chopped fine
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
I want to take a moment to rave about this fresh vegan mushroom gravy from Whole Foods. It’s in the refrigerated section. I usually use BBQ sauce in my meatloaf to add moisture, but this wasn’t going to work with this flavor profile. I thought I’d add turkey gravy, but when I saw the nutrition facts for this stuff I decided on it!
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for several hours. When I say mix, I mean use your hands people!! After you’ve cooked your stuffing, take your meat and in rectangle form press it out flat onto a greased cutting board. Add stuffing in a log shape in the middle of the meat. You will not need all the stuffing you made. Then wrap the sides of the meat up around the stuffing to form a typical looking “loaf”. Make sure the ends are sealed up and the seam is squished together. Transfer to a 9x13” baking pan and cook at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees to finish cooking for 45 more minutes. Let the loaf sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Put slices on the plate and drizzle with the cranberry fig sauce.
*A note about why stuffing in the middle: If you’re anything like me, your favorite part of Thanksgiving is the stuffing. It’s also the least healthy thing on this menu. So putting it in the middle of the meat creates portion control and keeps me from eating a whole plate of it!
20 oz. fresh green beans
1 container baby bella mushrooms
¾ onion, caramelized
*do this by slicing thin, and sautéing over low heat with a little olive oil and salt
mushroom gravy (same stuff from above)
Sauté green beans and mushrooms with a small amount of olive oil (just to keep from sticking) for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, warm the rest of the mushroom gravy in a small saucepan until heated through. When beans and mushrooms are at desired doneness (I like mine crunchy) add onions and stir together. Serve on the plate and drizzle a little of the gravy over the bean mixture.
*This is going to create the same flavors of our favorite green bean holiday dish without the unhealthy cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions!!!!
Well friends, this meal was truly delicious and I am awake to write about it! The best part is that you really can get all the flavors you love about Thanksgiving without all the guilt! I think I’ll go watch a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!