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Welcome, friends, to another Saturday night edition of "What's For Dinner?"

What's For Dinner is a community diary on Saturday evenings about 7:30 pm EST where cyber friends get together and discuss food and share recipes. Pull your chair up to the table and leave politics at the door. Pour yourselves a drink and relax.
We all have fond memories of one dish or another from our childhood regardless of political or financial backgrounds. Our parents may have been culinary wizards with the best ingredients money could buy or frugal budget stretchers who attempted to feed us with quick-fix casseroles etc. but I think one thing is universal; we all have that one meal that we loved as kids regardless of the cost or how long Mom or Dad had to slave over a hot stove.

Mine is Turkey Loaf.  When I was just barely a teenager my mom (a single working mom) discovered the frozen 1lb tubes of ground turkey at the grocery store which, at the time, were a bargain compared to the ground beef. Her first instinct was to use them to make meatloaf, er. . .turkeyloaf;) She read somewhere about using canned soup in the mix to keep the turkey from drying out too much and from the very first time she made it I loved it. I would request it quite often along with another one of my favorite "frugal" dinners; her "Shepherd's Pie" (that I'll save for another diary!).  

As an adult I have made turkey loaf quite often. Adding this or that, changing the flavor profile to suit my mood etc. But I always stuck with Mom's use of a can of cream of mushroom soup to moisten and flavor the loaf. These days though, I try to avoid using canned soups in my dishes because I have a full kitchen once again, and making sauces from scratch is a lot easier than you'd think and it's healthier than using the processed stuff. So, with that in mind I invite you to join me past the orange squiggly for my re-invented turkey loaf with homemade cream of mushroom sauce!

To start let's look at my mom's original version:

Mom's Turkeyloaf

1 lb ground turkey (if using frozen then thaw in the refrigerator first)
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1 egg

Mix the ground turkey with 1/2 of the can of soup (dump the other 1/2 into a bowl for making the sauce later), the breadcrumbs and the egg. Keep in mind turkey is pretty lean so I pack it into a loaf pan and bake it at 425° for about 45 minutes. It should be thoroughly cooked in the middle. If you have a probe thermometer you want an internal temp of 165°. Let the loaf rest for about 15 minutes before slicing.
Heat the remaining cream of mushroom soup in a microwave adding a little bit of milk to make it a good sauce consistency. Serve slices of the loaf topped with the sauce.

Ok, so that's pretty simple. You can imagine there are plenty of ways to jazz this up by using various spices and herbs. And of course by making a homemade mushroom sauce!
Ninkasi's Revised Turkeyloaf

2 lbs of ground turkey
1 egg
1 1/2 cups (about 2 good handfuls is what I used) of panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp each (approximately) of cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder & onion powder
a good sprinkle of kosher salt and a few good grinds of black pepper
about 1/4 cup of milk

Mix all of the above ingredients together, adding more breadcrumbs or milk to adjust so the mixture easily holds together.  Pack this into a loaf pan and top with 4-5 strips of bacon. I cut them in half then laid them on crisscross style.
Bake at 425° for about an hour until your probe thermometer reads about 165°.

While the loaf is baking start making your mushroom sauce:
2-3 tblsp of butter
1 lb of mushrooms, sliced
2 tblsp of flour (Wondra works great here as it is very fine and tends to incorporate easier)
1 cup of half & half (or if you're feeling decadent heavy cream)
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and season with a few grinds of black pepper & a sprinkle of kosher salt. Saute until the mushrooms are browned and have released most of their liquid.  Scatter the flour over the mushrooms and stir to incorporate. Let this cook for a minute until it starts to smell "nutty".  Slowly pour in the half & half while stirring gently. Turn the heat to medium high and while stirring bring to just barely a boil then lower back to a simmer and continue stirring until the sauce comes together and starts to thicken. Add a tblsp of butter to "finish" the sauce and lower the heat to your stove's lowest setting and cover until the meatloaf is done.

This is what Campbells wishes it could be!

When your loaf is done let it rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. I removed it whole from the pan and put it on a serving platter and cut a few slices, surrounded it with some baby roasted potatoes and then poured the sauce over the whole thing. It made quite the impressive serving at the table!

And yes, my pootie Button was outside looking in at our delectable feast when I snapped the photo;)

So fellow diners, what are some of your childhood favorites? What kinds of revisions, if any, have you made to update the classics? Recipes, tips, questions and comments are, as always, welcome here!

What is your favorite childhood classic?

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| 47 votes | Vote | Results

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