Meatloaf Turnovers

Meatloaf Turnovers (6 of 6)

I’ve made Jeff a few promises since starting this blog, about things I’d cook at some point. This is the first one I’ve kept (sorry Jeff!). We were wandering around Green Apple Books, and I was oohing and ahhing over the Pie and Pastry Bible. We debated about whether to buy it, if the recipes were worth adding yet another cookbook to our apartment, and Jeff made me a deal. The book could come home with us if I promised to make a specific recipe in it, the cheddar crust meatloaf. Obviously I took the deal. But that book buying afternoon was a few years ago and while I’ve put the book to very good use in the meantime, I did not actually make the meatloaf. And then, when I looked at the recipe, I realllly regretted it.

Meatloaf Turnovers (2 of 6)

The original recipe has you make a meatloaf, bake it about 2/3 of the way, take it out of the oven, cool it completely, wrap it in a crust, and then bake it again. I made it anyway, and it was good. Good enough that I brought it to a dinner party and people picked at the crumbs on the platter – although the crust slid a bit on the meatloaf so it wasn’t exactly photogenic. But even before it came out of the oven, I knew I was never going to make it again unless I made some serious alterations to the recipe. Having to bake the meatloaf twice was just not worth it.

Meatloaf Turnovers (3 of 6)Meatloaf Turnovers (4 of 6)

Instead of sticking with the idea of meatloaf, I broke the dish into its component parts: a ground beef mixture and a cheddar-laced pie dough, both relatively simple to put together. Then after a brief rest in the fridge, the dough is cut into circles and wrapped around the meat filling. It’s basically an American-style empanada, or a savory turnover. And it’s as delicious as the original, if not a little improved from the increased crust-to-filling ratio. It’s still a kind of involved recipe, but one that’s worth making on occasion, rather than worth making only once and never again.

Meatloaf Turnovers (5 of 6)

Meatloaf Turnovers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Inspired by Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe in The Pie and Pastry Bible
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 4 oz grated cheddar cheese (about a half cup)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Up to ⅓ cup of ice water
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ an onion, finely diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, finely diced (about ¼ cup)
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tbs bourbon
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  1. COMBINE flour, cheese, butter, salt in a large bowl and work the mixture together with your fingertips until it resembles a coarse and uneven meal. All the butter should be coated in flour and broken down into pieces between the size of an olive and a pea.
  2. ADD the vinegar and then a few tablespoons of water at a time, working it in before adding more. The dough should come together but there should still be a few flakes on the bottom of the bowl and it shouldn’t be too sticky on the outside. Add water slowly to keep the dough from getting too wet.
  3. WRAP the dough in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for about an hour.
  4. After resting:
  5. PREHEAT the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
  6. COMBINE ground beef, onion, celery, ketchup, bourbon, Worcestershire, garlic, and salt in a large bowl.
  7. DIVIDE the rested dough in two equal halves and roll out on half so that it is about ¼ inch thick. Cut out four circles, approximately 5-6 inches in diameter (a bowl makes a great template for this).
  8. FILL each circle with about ¼ cup of filling (you could predivide the filling into 8 portions or, like me, you could just eyeball it and maybe have a little leftover). Place the filling on one half of the dough circle and brush a little water on the edge of the dough, then fold it over the meat. Try not to pull the dough too much when you do this, or it may burst in the oven. Pinch the edge to seal the pockets, and then transfer the turnover to the baking sheet. Repeat this until you have 8 turnovers. Cut a vent in the top of each one.
  9. BAKE for about 40 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the filling is bubbling inside.

    You can serve these immediately (with yellow rice and cilantro pesto, like I did) or put them in lunches for a week.
About the filling: Most meatloaf recipes use eggs and breadcrumbs to bind everything into a loaf, so it can be baked and sliced. But using a binder here would result in little meat pucks inside a crust, not something that is terribly appetizing. The crust keeps the filling in, so you can leave out the binder and get a nice crumbly texture inside. You can also adapt your favorite meatloaf recipe to go inside this crust.

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