Beef, Turkey & Mushroom Meatloaf with Cider Mustard Gravy

I grew up eating meatloaf on a regular basis. It was a popular item in my mom’s dinner rotation, usually served with baked potatoes – because they could bake at the same time – and a green vegetable, like broccoli. Although I’ve knocked my mom’s cooking on occasion (sorry, mom) I actually liked her meatloaf quite a bit. And the leftovers made for a good sandwich on toasted bread with cheese and ketchup.

But not everyone has happy memories of meatloaf and there’s that association with bad cafeteria food. Just the sound of it is perceived as a bit unappetizing. A loaf of meat? Surely someone could have thought of a better name. Though isn’t it strange how no one reacts that way to meatballs, especially when a meatloaf and a meatball are so similar? Hmm.

Traditional meatloaf “mix” is packaged with beef and pork. But as I browsed around the Rutland Co-op last week, turkey caught my eye over pork.  I guess my turkey craving couldn’t wait for Thanksgiving. Mushrooms called to me as well and add an extra savory depth to the loaf. And that’s what I love about foods like meatloaf, meatballs and burgers – you can always play with the flavors.

Chopped onion, garlic, sage and thyme flavor the meat as well, while egg and breadcrumbs bind it all together. It’s really pretty simple to put together, that must have been why my mom relied on it so often. Once the meat is mixed it bakes unattended for nearly an hour.

meatloaf ingredients

The best tool for mixing meat is your hands. Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty.

You don’t need a loaf pan for a meatloaf. It bakes up fine just shaped on a baking sheet. See the large flecks of onion? Yum. But if you’re not an onion fan, chop those up a bit more than I did here.

cider gravy
A little homemade gravy cannot be overlooked when serving meatloaf.  Just save some of the onion from the loaf, cook it with tomato paste, mustard and flour, reduce with apple cider and it’s good to go well before the meatloaf comes out of the oven. Or if you’re on top of your game and have the gravy made before the meatloaf is in the oven, spoon some over top before baking.


Beef, Turkey & Mushroom Meatloaf with Cider Mustard Gravy

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings


  • 1 cup bread crumbs (or 1 large slice of bread, chopped)
  • 2 cups broth (beef, turkey or vegetable)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 leaves sage, chopped
  • 8 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • A small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a small bowl, pour one cup of the broth over the breadcrumbs and let sit for a minute as you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Combine the beef, turkey, mushrooms, half of the chopped onion, garlic, herbs and egg in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands and fold in the breadcrumbs. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Form the meat mixture into one large loaf or two smaller loaves on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your loaf.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small pot cook the onion, tomato paste and mustard in a tablespoon of the oil. When onions have softened, about 5 minutes, sprinkle over the flour. Cook another minute, then add the remaining cup of broth and the cider. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes, then add in the parsley.
  7. Slice the meatloaf and serve with the gravy.

January Veggie of the Month: Winter Squash

For the month of January, Veggie Of the Month is focused on winter squash. While there are many winter squash varieties out there, my favorite is butternut. I find it easy to work with and versatile. And the great thing is that winter squashes like butternut keep for an extended period of time if stored well – that’s why we’re talking about it in the month of January, when it was harvested sometime in the fall. I found several farmers at the Rutland market carrying them this past weekend.

What I also like is how the butternut squash is used with the pasta. Typically winter squash takes a longer period of time to cook, but we’re going to grate it and that knocks the cooking time down to just a few short minutes.

Getting started

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You want to start by cutting the top off of the squash and carefully slicing down the middle from the top. Just watch your hands. When you’ve cut the squash open use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Sometimes I save them and roast them to later top salad or soup. But I’ll leave that up to you.

Some winter squashes, like acorn, are not so easy to peel. Butternut, with its smooth surface, doesn’t take long. Afterwards, you’re going to want to grate the squash with a handheld grater or with the proper disc attachment on your food processor. I found it easier to grate by hand by breaking a half into smaller, easier to handle pieces.



One of my favorite pairings with butternut squash is sage. If you haven’t already, check out the butternut squash, apple and sage soup I made in the fall. You’re going to want to roughly slice the sage leaves into smaller pieces, but you don’t need to go crazy.

Before serving, I top the pasta with toasted walnuts. You shouldn’t be intimidated about toasting nuts. Toasting noticeably enhances the flavor. And as long as you don’t forget about them, it’s easy. Just place them in a pan over medium high heat as you prep the rest of the ingredients. Give the pan a shake once in awhile. They’ll be done when you notice a slight browning and nutty aroma.



  Penne with butternut squash, sage and walnuts



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 5 cups shredded butternut squash (from about 1/2 peeled medium squash)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh sage
  • 1 pound penne or pasta of your choice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Start a large pot of water over high heat for the pasta.

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about two minutes before adding in the squash and sage. Stir occasionally, until squash begins to brown, about 4 minutes.

When the water is boiling, add a couple pinches of salt and the pasta. When cooked al dente, drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water.

Add pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to the squash and stir to coat. Cook over medium heat, stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until squash coats pasta. Divide pasta among bowls and top with the walnuts and cheese, if using.

Recipe adapted from

Butternut Squash, Apple and Sage Soup

What’s better than roasted squash on a fall day? Combine it with some fresh apple cider and make soup.

I was having friends over for dinner two nights this weekend and made up a large batch of this to serve as first courses for both. I don’t often serve full, proper courses for dinner, but I have winter squash hiding out in every corner of my small apartment. And yet, I still buy more. There are so many great varieties and uses, I can contentedly eat it for the next six months.

This soup has an interesting ingredient – Worchestshire sauce. In case you’ve ever wondered -Worcestershire Sauce, dating back to the 19th century, is an English blend of brined anchoviess, tamarinds (an Indian date-like fruit), molasses, garlic, vinegar, chilies, cloves, shallots and sugar. It’s an interesting and yet underutilized staple ingredient. So, no wonder, it would add a nice boost to this, and probably, most soups.

Fresh sage helps make this kind of awesome as well. Again, another ingredient I don’t take advantage of often enough. When I do use them, I like to saute them up in a pan with a little oil and fry until crisp. Fried sage leaves would make an excellent garnish to this soup.

Butternut Squash, Apple and Sage Soup

serves 8

4 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium )
8-10 sage leaves; chopped
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper
splash of maple syrup
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot; minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup apple cider
1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes; or more to taste
splash of heavy cream
1 large apple; finely diced

Preheat oven to 425 F. Halve each butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle with sage, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Dot with butter. Roast 45-1 hour until the squash is tender. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, then scoop out flesh.

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pot. Add in shallot and sauté over medium-low heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add in scooped out butternut squash, chicken stock, apple cider, brown sugar, Worcestershire, nutmeg and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender. Return to pot, taste and adjust seasonings. At the last minute, stir in heavy cream and serve garnished with diced apple, fried sage leaves, or a spoonful of Greek yogurt, swirled.

Adapted from


Risotto makes for an awesome comfort food and at the same time, sophisticated dinner. Although traditionally prepared with Arborio rice, an Italian short grain variety, you could easily swap out some of the Eight Common Grains, such as barley. With Arborio it just takes a little extra time and some degree of your attention, yet the process is very simple.

The basis of a good risotto involves starting out by cooking onions, adding in the grain, deglazing the pan with some wine, then slowly adding hot broth as it is absorbed by the rice. Some then top the dish with grated cheese, like Parmesan. The process results in a creamy consistency and rich flavor.


Other, uncooked vegetables can be added in right after the onion and before adding the grain. And pre-cooked vegetables could be added in during the last few minutes of cooking and could save on overall  . Recently, I made a risotto with beets and guest chef Hilary Adams made one with butternut squash. Both were delicious and all it takes is mastering the rather simple technique. A pot of either of these risottos could easily feed six as a main dish with cooked greens or a salad on the side.

Butternut Squash Risotto

serves 6

1 quart chicken broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
nutmeg, grated, to taste
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
7 or 8 leaves fresh sage, slivered (optional)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring stock and water to a simmer in a sauce pot then reduce heat to low to keep hot. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat with the olive oil. When hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until softened – 2 to 3 minutes, then add in the squash and nutmeg. Add rice and toast for a minute or two, until fragrant – this helps bring out the rice’s rich, nutty flavor. Next, pour in the wine, if using, and cook it off for 2 to 3 minutes. Start ladling in the stock in intervals – a couple of ladles at a time. Allow the liquid to be absorbed between each addition. Risotto will cook in about 30 minutes from the first addition of the stock. You will be able to tell when the risotto is near done when it is no longer absorbing liquid. But taste and cook to a consistency to your liking. In the last-minute of cooking time stir in the sage and cheese. Adjust seasoning, add in butter, if using, and serve.

Beet Risotto

Replace the squash with four medium, peeled and chopped beets. Omit the nutmeg and sage.