So let's say it is Sunday night, and you feel like putting together a meal to celebrate the viewing of AMC's addictive Mad Men but you don't feel like opening up your Good Housekeeping 1962 cookbooks because you know the food is going to be simply awful, although extremely 'attractive' in that "I have a lot of time to kill, not so much talent, so look at how darn decorative these deviled eggs are" way.
Here's the solution: dress up your meatloaf.
I'm not one to usually hunker down and dirty with protein-heavy meals, but for some reason the idea of a Better Homes and Gardens-style evening popped into my head and I decided to try my hand at a free-form meatloaf. Turkey Meatloaf. I don't have a recipe for you (I think meatloaf is highly personal, and I wouldn't dare tell you that my recipe tastes better than anything your mom made) but I do have some directions as to how you, too, can acheive 60's housefrau nirvana.
First, decide what kind of meat you are using for your meatloaf. If you are using turkey or chicken, you'll need a turkey breast or a few chicken breasts (easier to find). If you are going the four-legged animal way, buy a cut of meat you can pound extremely thin.
Make your meatloaf, about 1 lb of ground meat to whatever else you put in it. I added homemade mustard, ketchup, tons of spices, fresh thyme, sambol, breadcrumbs, cookied onions, eggs and gruyere cheese (for that nice savory 'umami' flavor). Set your meatloaf aside in the refrigerator.
For every half pound of meatloaf, you'll need one chicken breast. Steak users, you are on your own for this one.
Put a sheet of parchment on your work surface. and place your chicken breast lobe side down on it. Butterfly the breast only at the thickest part of the lobe - you want the breast to be even thickness throughout. When the breast has been cut and opened up, put another piece of parchment on top and start to gently pound the breast out until is is almost 3x the width it started as.If you don't have a pounder, use a heavy-bottomed pan. The breast will be very thin and delicate. Put the breast, parchment and all, in the refrigerator.
You will now need to make a filling for the meatloaf. I went with a spinach, garlic, gruyere and breadcrumb filling (breadcrumbs absorb any excess liquid from the spinach), but you can do anything you like. Alternative grains and tomato, sweet potato, mushroom and spinach - anything will work. You can even do the hard boiled egg, if that's your thing.
Once you make it, set it aside. You'll need it immediately.
Now take the pounded breast, the meatloaf, and the filling out. Place about half the meatloaf on the pounded breast and create a small well down the middle, along the length of the loaf. Spread about half your filling in here. Bring the sides together over the filling - you want to make sure the filling is in the middle of the loaf after it bakes. If you life the parchment up you can create a loaf shape, as below:
The one on the left is lined with prosciutto and covered with prosciutto. To have an inner lining of prosciutto, just cover the breast in prosciutto before spreading the meatloaf on it, and cover the loaf with the remaining prosciutto once it is formed. I used about 3.5 ounces of prosciutto on this one.
If you don't use prosciutto, you'll want to douse the chicken breast in spices of your choosing. I went with salt, pepper, and paprika - simple and tasty.
Bake until cooked in a 350 degree oven.
When it comes out, it will look like this:
The plain one looks like this:
Here's where it gets fun. When you cut open the meatloaf while it is still warm, it looks like this:
The next day, you can slice it thinly and use it to make the fanciest looking meat loaf sandwich you've ever served:
PS: make sure the thyme sprig is NOT served with your sandwich. Looks good in a picture, tastes lousy.