My boyfriend’s return from a week in California definitely called for a celebration, so I asked myself, “What would Noah want as a welcome-home gift?” One word came to mind: Meat.

Relationships are based on trust, right? So would it be terrible if I DIDN’T tell him that the saturated fat-fest he was looking forward to was not made of beef, but ground turkey breast? The psychology student in me began to wonder: will the role of expectation work in my favour, or will it backfire? Will he be put off by a taste he’s not expecting, or will he be pleasantly surprised? I only had one shot at testing my theory in the meatloaf lab, and tension was running high.

In the end, it didn’t matter; turns out turkey meatloaf has a whitish color after it’s cooked, making it difficult to disguise (which I tried to do anyway with a layer of mashed potatoes spread like frosting atop the loaf-o-meat.) Though he saw right through me, (“Is that…turkey meatloaf?”) I needn’t have worried, cause it turned out to be a delicious experiment!

I also had an experiment going on the mashed potato front. I wanted to come up with a butter substitute that would add flavour and creaminess without all the fat, so I tried mashing them with light sour cream. Not a bad idea, if I do say so myself. Alone, these potatoes are not my proudest invention, but as a topping for the meatloaf, they really shine! I definitely suggest serving them together.

A couple of notes for other first-time turkey meatloaf makers: make sure you buy ground turkey BREAST rather than plain ol’ ground turkey. I almost made this mistake before I realized that ground turkey actually has MORE fat–including the saturated kind–than lean ground beef (presumably because all the fatty parts that you’d pick over at Thanksgiving are thrown into the mix.) Also, when your meatloaf looks ready, cut into the center to test for doneness. The ends of my meatloaf were ready before the center was cooked through, and it’s more difficult to tell if turkey is cooked sufficiently than it is to tell if beef is done. You want it to be white rather than pink, and the center should be about as firm as the edges.

Finally, a note about the time commitment involved: though you’ll probably only spend about 15 minutes actively preparing this meal, the meatloaf will require about an hour in the oven. This is a great meal to make if you’re able to start early; the bake time will give you plenty of time to mark things off your to-do list, play with the kids, browse Healthy Girl for tomorrow’s dinner, whatever. This meatloaf is great reheated for lunch, or served with a gooey egg overeasy on a weekend morning!

Meatloaf:
1.25-1.5 lbs ground turkey breast
1 cup crushed whole wheat crackers (put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin–it’s extremely satisfying)
2 TBSP worcestershire or A-1
2 TBSP ketchup
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 TBSP parsley flakes, if you have them
2 eggs
a few grinds of kosher salt & fresh pepper

Potatoes:
Approximately 1 lb. of red potatoes
1/2 cup light or fat-free sour cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika, if you have it
salt, pepper, & crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the meatloaf ingredients together using your hands (this will get messy!) and transfer your concoction to a bread pan. I used a glass pan, which requires a longer baking time and I think may have contributed to the middle of my meatloaf taking so long to be done. If you’re using a metal pan, the baking time should be about 50 minutes to an hour; for a glass pan, allow an hour and 15 minutes.
2. Peel your potatoes if you wish (I usually leave the skins on mine.) Chop them up, throw them into a big pot and cover them with about 1″ of water. Cook until they’re easily mashable with the back of a spoon.
3. Mash up your potatoes and add sour cream and spices. Cover the pot to keep your potatoes warm until the meatloaf is done.
4. If kitsch really lights your fire like it does mine, spread your mashed potatoes over your meatloaf like you’re frosting a cake. Decorate the top with ketchup swirlies and serve it to your loved ones.