Monday, October 04, 2010

My Discovery of Ground Turkey

For years I have read that substituting ground turkey for ground beef is a healthy choice.  So, I trekked to the store and my jaw hit the floor when I saw the PRICE of ground turkey.  It was usually over $4 per pound.  Well, I stuck to my ground beef.  Then one day I was at my local Sam's Club and discovered that they sell two 20 ounce packages (5 pounds) of ground turkey for just over $10.  $2 per pound is less than even the cheapest ground beef unless you find a good sale. 

So, I decided to try it.  When cooked, ground turkey is much lighter in color than ground beef and does have a different flavor.  However, when you are mixing it into a dish, these differences are not very obvious.  One nice thing about ground turkey is the lack of fat that cooks out of it.  You can brown it and not drain it or use it in a dish like meatloaf and not worry about it swimming in a pool of fat.  Because of this, though, I find that I need to add a little olive oil to my skillet when I am browning it. 

So, you might be wondering what exactly to do with this stuff.  I have used it in casseroles and chili.  It makes wonderful seasoned taco meat, too.  I have also started making meatloaf with it which is quite yummy.  We use one 20 ounce package of ground turkey to make this and it feeds our little family of 8 with some leftover.  Although you can form it into loaves, I find that it is simpler just to press it into a 9" x 13" casserole dish like a big meat cake.  We cut it into pieces, like cake, to serve it. 

Turkey Loaf

A delicious yet healthy version of meatloaf made with ground turkey.  Could also be made with lean ground beef. Serves 8.

  • 2 1/2 pounds (40 oz.) ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large eggs *
  • 1-2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened) **
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese ***
  • 2 cups spaghetti sauce
Mix all ingredients EXCEPT the spaghetti sauce together.  Clean hands work best for this.  Press into a greased 9" x 13" pan/dish. (You can form this into several loaves, but I find that it is quicker and easier to just place into dish and cut like a cake to serve.)  Pour sauce over top.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 60 minutes.

*To lower the fat in this recipe you can substitute 4 large eggs for the 2 whole eggs.
**When I am out of applesauce I have substituted ketchup, baby food, or cooked and pureed vegetables.
***May be eliminated if trying to keep this dairy-free. (Yes, sadly, this is now a concern in our house.)

The recipe can also be found here.

You can also make this and freeze it baked, half-baked, or unbaked.  If your family is smaller, you could make this into two loaves and bake one and freeze one for a future meal.  I love when I can make two meals for the effort of one.  What a bonus!  You could also make snack size meatloaves in muffin tins.  You could just bake them and eat them for dinner or bake them and freeze them for individual lunches or snacks.  You could pop one or two out of the freezer and microwave them.
Hope you enjoy!

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