Cooking 101

The comfort of meatloaf with fewer calories

Turkey, Cranberry and Sage Meatloaf With Mushroom Gravy has the bright flavors of the holiday season and fewer calories than more traditional meatloaf.
Turkey, Cranberry and Sage Meatloaf With Mushroom Gravy has the bright flavors of the holiday season and fewer calories than more traditional meatloaf. / styled by Kaarin Nelson, Johnson County Community College

If you have a craving for comfort food but don’t want the calories, Megan Fritcher, a fourth-semester student in the Johnson County Community College chef apprentice program, has a savory turkey meatloaf and mushroom gravy with a holiday flair that you will want to try.

Her recipe has everything one could want in a comfort food, but in a lightened-up version, thanks to the incorporation of ground turkey.

It is flavored with all the traditional ingredients of a meatloaf, plus dried cranberries and sage. Topped with a mushroom gravy, this makes for a delicious entrée.

“This is one of my favorite things my mom would make when I was a kid,” Fritcher says. “When I think of meatloaf, I go to that memory of making this dish with my mom.”

Fritcher says she chose to add cranberries along with sage because they give the dish a seasonal flavor.

About the chef

Megan Fritcher is a fourth semester student in the chef apprentice program at Johnson County Community College. She works at Ameristar in the main kitchen.

About the column

Cooking 101 is an occasional column exclusive to The Star designed to introduce home cooks to basic cooking techniques. The recipe, food styling and photography are a joint project between culinary students and instructors at Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program.

About the food stylist

Kaarin Nelson works with the chef and photographer to prop and arrange the best shot. She is a fourth-semester interior design student at JCCC.

Turkey, Cranberry and Sage Meatloaf With Mushroom Gravy

Makes 6 servings

For the turkey meatloaf:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 cup diced yellow onions

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 pounds ground turkey

1 pound ground pork shoulder

1 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the gravy:

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

1 tablespoon dry white wine

1 pinch salt

2 cups chicken or turkey stock (you may substitute bouillon)

1 tablespoon chicken base

1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

For the meatloaf: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, onions, carrots and celery and sauté until the vegetables have softened. Add the sage, cranberries and parsley. Sauté all until carrots are tender. Place the mixture in the fridge to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

When cooled, mix together the sautéed vegetables, ground turkey, pork, breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Fill a 9-by-5-by-5-inch loaf pan with the mixture and bake for 60 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

For the mushroom sauce: In a 1-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté 1 minute but do not brown. Add white wine and pinch of salt and cook until mushrooms absorb the liquid and are nearly dry. Add chicken stock and chicken base and bring to simmer. Thicken gravy with the cornstarch-water slurry, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve meatloaf with mushroom sauce and a side of green beans or other vegetable.

Per serving: 579 calories (52 percent from fat), 33 grams total fat (10 grams saturated), 246 milligrams cholesterol, 22 grams carbohydrates, 45 grams protein, 1,675 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.