Grilled Mini Southwest Turkey Meatloaves with Cilantro Coleslaw and Tuxedo Cowboy Beans

For many Americans of my generation, meatloaf was a regular dinner event as we were growing up. Perhaps it still is? And while meatloaf is easy and simple, it’s neither easy or simple to make well. Just bring up meatloaf when you’re gathered with a few other people. The responses will range from…

YES, YES!! I LOVE MEATLOAF!!! Especially with mashed potatoes and green peas. But don’t put ketchup on it. Wait; I might like it better the next day for a sandwich with nothing but mayo. On white bread.

to…

OMG, I couldn’t stand my mother’s meatloaf. She filled it with oatmeal and it was dry and tasteless as dust. We had it every week no matter what. I had to cover it with ketchup. Yuck.

I’m one of the OH, I LOVE MEATLOAF! variety because not only did my mom make a tasty meatloaf, I made sure and learned how to do the same when my turn to cook for a family came around. (We’re talking beef or beef and pork meatloaf here.) It took a few tries to get it right, but I still make it exactly the same way. It’s one of the very few meals I cook today that incorporates a few processed food items like dry onion soup mix and canned tomato sauce. Yes, canned tomato sauce is processed food! I just love my own meatloaf. I hope you love yours.

Adding the cheese in the middle of my new grilled mini turkey meatloaves

Occasionally, if I had some cheese that needed using, I might stick some in the middle. Cheddar was fine; mozzarella was better. But that was not a regular thing. A pound of ground beef plus all of the other goodies fed 6 of us. Incredible, right? It always seemed like plenty, though there was rarely enough left for a sandwich. More’s the pity. Today, empty nesters that we are, Dave–my husband–and I nearly always get a next day sandwich.

Here’s the pan-less mini meatloaf.

A few years ago, the woman who did my nails (Lori, you know who you are), wanted a new recipe for turkey meatloaf and asked if I’d come up with one. It took a while, but my final product was good enough to be addictive and served to company with some fun sides and a pitcher of margaritas. I’d make two and freeze one in slices that I’d grill frozen for a quick meal the next week. That turkey meatloaf was studded with local southwest favorites– green chiles and salsa — and stuffed with Pepper Jack cheese. There’s no need to take turkey and try to make it taste like beef for meatloaf. It’s best to give it it’s own personality and season it like poultry. Scroll down for a a photo of that meatloaf with a link to the recipe.

My newest version resting

Last summer, I kept craving my turkey meatloaf, but if you have a big old blasting gas range with gas oven, you don’t turn it on come summer except at oh-dark-early. You just do without. By August, though, when we’d had one too many grilled burgers, I was wondering about grilling that meatloaf and why not? My husband could grill just about anything, couldn’t he?

He’ll even pull out an old camp stove for THE BEST pancakes.

And then I thought about baby or individual meatloaves grilled in the mini loaf pans I typically use for Christmas bread gifts. In fact, I rarely use disposable pans because they’re lightweight and flimsy in the oven. Over the years I’ve collected stainless steel bread pans in several sizes, including the tiny ones, but I didn’t want to put those on the grill where they might get burned.

Fast forward a whole year and I’m finally ready to try this idea. I caved and bought small disposable aluminum pans at the grocery store, but also decided to try at least one meatloaf without a pan.

By the way, if your pans aren’t too bent, crusty and filthy after grilling, you might be able to scrub them up and use them a second time. Mine were garbage.

Once I got the pans home, I couldn’t wait to try out the recipe and see what transpired. These little individual meatloaves were so fun and just as tasty as the big one had been. It turns out the loaves in the pans took somewhat longer to grill than I anticipated–about 25 minutes–but the pan-less version took only around 15. Should you try the recipe without the pans, make sure you’ve really sealed the meat mixture around the cheese or you’ll have a goopy, burned-cheese mess on your grill. Mine turned out a bit more like burger, but no matter. Perhaps you’ll shape yours better.

Leftovers? Yep, these’ll eat as they are stone cold for lunch or warmed up quickly in a greased skillet or grill pan for dinner…Of course you should try them in that sandwich with mayo, too. Or, maybe in this case you’d pop out the Dijon mustard or a few spicy pickles.

Sides? I couldn’t help but go with some typical Coloradan summer easies like beans and coleslaw–in this case ginned up into Tuxedo Cowboy Beans and Cilantro Coleslaw (recipes below) just because I can’t leave well enough alone. You probably can’t either, so try all of this and see what you think:

Dave made these on our gas grill. Thanks, honey.
Haven’t tried them on the charcoal grill. Let me know if you do?

grilled mini southwest turkey meatloaves

These moderately spicy meatloaves can be grilled in small loaf pans or right on the grill a la hamburgers. I tend to like them in pans for two reasons. First, they're stuffed with Pepper Jack cheese and the pans contain any escaping melty deliciousness. (No cheese down into the grill either.) Second, they look more like meatloaves if they've been cooked in pans. Grilling instructions courtesy David Morgan.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Meatloaf
Servings: 6
Author: More Time at the Table/Alyce Morgan

Equipment

  • 6 aluminum mini-loaf pans such as Handi-foil, approximately 6" x 3" x 1 7/8"

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 ½ cups salsa, divided (1 cup in meatloaf, 1/2 cup on top for serving)
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat bread, cubed
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounce can chopped mild or hot green chiles, drained
  • 1/3 pound sliced Pepper Jack cheese

Instructions

  • Heat grill for medium-high direct heat–about 400 degrees F. Brush pans with olive oil and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together with your very clean hands ground turkey – green chiles. (Everything but the olive oil and Pepperjack cheese.)
  • Measure 1/2 cup turkey mixture into each of the pans and pat it down evenly. Fold a slice of pepperjack cheese in half lengthwise and place into center of each meatloaf. Measure and pat in evenly another 1/2 cup turkey mixture into each pan on top of the cheese, making sure to push down the edges well so that cheese has the least chance of escaping.
  • Place pans on grill, close lid, and cook about 25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from grill to a rack or wooden board and let rest 3 minutes.
  • Turn each meatloaf out carefully onto serving plates, using a small knife to loosen them if necessary. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of reserved salsa down the center of each meatloaf. Serve hot with Cilantro Coleslaw and Tuxedo Cowboy Beans. (Recipes in post)

Notes

If not using aluminum pans, these meatloaves will be done somewhat quicker, perhaps after 15 minutes or so.  They also make a tasty Juicy-Lucy type hamburger (burger stuffed with cheese) if that’s your druthers. No need to melt cheese on top as it’s on the inside! Top with spicy pickles and shredded cabbage or coleslaw. 
For a less spicy meatloaf, use fewer green chiles, choose a mild salsa, and sub Monterey Jack or Cheddar for the Pepper Jack cheese.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2019.  All rights reserved.
Use light and dark beans for a “tuxedo” effect.

tuxedo cowboy beans

Too hot in the house to turn on the stove? Cook these beans in a pan on your grill or on the grill’s side burner if you have one. This recipe doubles or triples easily. The half jalapeno provides just a small buzz; use a whole one for spicier beans.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Beans
Servings: 6
Author: More Time at the Table/Alyce Morgan
Cost: $5.00

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 slices thick bacon diced
  • ½ cup each diced red onion and red or yellow sweet bell pepper
  • ½ jalapeno minced (seeds and membranes removed)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon each: kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 15- ounce cans pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 15- ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 2-4 tablespoons barbecue sauce optional

Instructions

  • Place a three-quart saucepan over medium heat for a minute or two; drizzle in the olive oil. After another minute, add diced bacon and, stirring regularly so it doesn’t stick, cook about half-way done—not yet crispy. Add peppers and onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Pour in the beans and, stirring, warm until well heated through and bubbling. Taste, adjust seasoning, and stir in barbecue sauce, if using. Serve hot or warm.

Notes

Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2019. All rights reserved.


Can be made with or without mayonnaise to suit your tastes.

cilantro coleslaw

Not a cilantro fan? Skip it and the mint, too. Add a grated small cored, unpeeled apple.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head green cabbage, outer leaves removed, cored, shredded coarsely into 1/4″ slices with chef’s knife
  • 3 green onions, trimmed and minced (white and green parts)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • Small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each crushed red pepper and freshly ground white pepper — can sub black pepper
  • 2 pinches white sugar, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar, divided
  • 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise, or to taste

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, place cabbage, onions, carrot, cilantro, mint (if using) and toss well. Sprinkle with salt (to taste), both peppers, and the first pinch of sugar. Add 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and toss well.
  • Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the other 1 tablespoon vinegar with the mayonnaise and the second pinch of sugar. Pour over cabbage mixture and toss well. Taste and re-season. Serve at room temperature or cold. Store tightly covered in refrigerator up to 4 days

Notes

If you’d like the salad with less fat (no mayonnaise), it’s tasty with ONLY THE VINEGAR (and spices) for dressing. If you like coleslaw a bit wetter and are going to eat it all in one day, you’ll be happy with more mayonnaise. Please skip crushed red pepper if you don’t like spicy food.

DRINKS?

Stir up a pitcher of my Syrah Sangria or even your favorite margaritas if you don’t have to have Mexcan beer with southwestern food. Make some Arnold Palmers for the non-drinkers.

WANT TO MAKE THE BIG VERSION MEATLOAF IN THE OVEN?

Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf – recipe for a whole meatloaf baked in the oven


HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR COFFEE?

One more electric coffeemaker has bit the dust and, believe it or not, is in the fix it shop since it was brand new and under warranty. It is a regular occasion in my kitchen to return to my 40-year old CHEMEX, which makes the best, if the slowest coffee. Either a coffeemaker dies or the power is off and I light the gas range with a match. I’m grateful for the patience it takes to wait for a really good cup of coffee because otherwise I’d be running somewhere paying $3 for a cardboard cup full. Yes, I’m thinking about giving up on expensive electric coffeemakers and sticking with this surefire coffee.

Listen to Mandy Patinkin sing “Coffee in a Cardboard Cup.” If you don’t know this wonderful singer from back in the day, you might recognize his older actor self from the currently captivating Showtime tv series “HOMELAND,” on for many seasons by now, though we’ve just finished the first season via dvd. Always a bit slow around here.

Coffee sigh,

Alyce

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