Meatloaf is such a budget-friendly dish, with so many delicious variations, that I wondered recently why I didn't make it more often. Then it dawned on me that it was probably because of the long baking time that a standard meatloaf needs.
To make this more weeknight-friendly, I've taken to baking my meatloaf mixture in a muffin tin instead. Not only do you get adorable portions that are easy to serve, but they also bake in about half the time!
I love ground turkey, but it's a little shy in the flavor department. Enter in all the ingredients that make a flavorful meatloaf: sautéed onions and garlic, barbecue sauce, and an egg and panko breadcrumbs to hold it all together. The key to a good meatloaf texture that's not too dense or chewy is to keep the meat as cold as possible and avoid overworking it. Be gentle with this mixture, pat it into muffin tins, and top with more barbecue sauce that bakes up into a sticky glaze.
As the meatloaf muffins bake, make a tangy, quick slaw using the leftover broccoli stems from this chicken dinner and some capers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that you can easily grate the stems on a box grater, and the stems have a mild, sweet taste that's really not that different from cabbage. If you don't have broccoli stems lying around, just substitute a few cups of premade slaw mix instead.
Turkey Meatloaf Muffins and Broccoli Stem Slaw
Makes 12 meatloaf muffins, serves 6
For the meatloaf muffins:
Cooking spray or olive oil, for coating the muffin pan
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup barbecue sauce, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground turkey, preferably a mix of dark and light meat
For the broccoli slaw:
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or caper brine
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces broccoli stems (from about a 1 1/2 pound head of broccoli)
1 medium carrot
For the meatloaf muffins: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Coat a standard 12-well muffin pan with cooking spray or olive oil. While the oven is heating, cook the onions and garlic.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and let cool completely.
Add the breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce, egg, salt, and pepper to the bowl and mix to form a paste. Add the turkey and, using clean hands, mix everything together until combined; be careful not to squeeze or overwork the mixture.
Divide the mixture among the muffin wells and gently pat each one into an even layer. Spread the remaining 3/4 cup barbecue sauce over the muffins (about 1 tablespoon per muffin). Bake until the meatloaf muffins are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the broccoli slaw.
For the broccoli slaw: Combine the onion, mayonnaise, capers, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; set aside.
Trim the broccoli stalks and peel off the tough skin with a vegetable peeler. Peel the carrots. Grate the broccoli and carrots on the large hole of a box grater (alternatively, shred the broccoli in a food processor using the grater disk — the attachment with the holes, not the blade) and place in the bowl with the dressing. Toss and place in the refrigerator for the flavors to combine until the meatloaf is ready.
When the meatloaf muffins are ready, remove the muffin pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the perimeter of each muffin to loosen and remove the muffins. Serve with the broccoli slaw.
Using slaw mix: You can use slaw mix if you want to skip the broccoli stems and carrots — just use 4 cups of your favorite cabbage mix instead.
Freezing: These meatloaf muffins can be frozen up to 2 months. Reheat in a 325°F oven until warmed through, about 15 minutes for thawed or 30 minutes for frozen.