Smoked Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich Topped with Spicy Aioli

Photos by Tina Marie Photography

By Cookin’ in Camo Chef Tyler Viars Photos by Tina Marie Photography


Three things I truly love: wild turkey, smoking barbecue, and meatloaf. Combine them together in the form of a sandwich, and this cook is happier than Winnie the Pooh inside the honey jar.

While on “MasterChef,” we, in fact, had a meatloaf challenge and I plated a dish eerily similar. Although they loved the flavor, the judges classified it more like a burger and less like a “loaf.” Meatloaf versus burger aside, I crave this sandwich.

If you’ve traveled south of the Mason-Dixon Line, you’ll discover this is a staple on many beloved barbecue restaurant menus. The chips, smoky chipotles, and earthy poblano combined with the oak-cooked turkey bring a surprising new flavor to the boring, common meatloaf.

Toast some sourdough bread, add a slather of aioli, some bread and butter pickles, crispy onion straws, and finish it with gooey melted cheddar cheese, and it is guaranteed to send anyone’s taste buds into orbit.

Serves 6-8.

Meatloaf Ingredients:

Oak chips or other hardwood of choice 2/3 cup ketchup 1/4 cup tomato paste 2 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo, sauce included 1 teaspoon cocoa powder (it may seem odd, but it adds great depth) 6 ounces ruffled, kettle-style barbecue potato chips (nacho cheese chips are awesome as well. AKA: Doritos) 3 cloves garlic 1 medium carrot, quartered 1 poblano pepper, seeded 1 medium sweet onion, quartered 1 tablespoon duck fat or unsalted butter 1 teaspoon dried sage 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 pound ground turkey thigh (if your hunting season went poorly, commercial ground 85/15 turkey will suffice) 1 pound pork shoulder 3 large eggs

12-16 slices of quality cheddar cheese slices 12-16 pieces of fresh sourdough bread Butter for toasting bread Bread and butter pickles for serving Onion straws

Zesty Aioli Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup ketchup 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper


**Preheat a smoker or oven to 250 degrees and add the hardwood chips.

Combine the ketchup, tomato paste, chipotle peppers and cocoa in a large mixing bowl. Remove approximately 1/3 of the mixture into a separate bowl to use as a glaze.

Using a food processor, pulse the potato chips until they are the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the potato chips to the 2/3-ketchup mixture.

Now, add the onion, carrot, garlic and poblano to the food processor and finely chop.

With the duck fat, heat a 10-12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable mixture to the skillet with the sage and kosher salt. Cook the vegetables for approximately 3-5 minutes or until they soften and begin to brown. Add the vegetables to the ketchup and potato chips and stir to thoroughly combine. Let the mixture cool for roughly 10 minutes.

Using the best kitchen utensil — your hands — add the ground meat mixture to the ketchup and potato chips and thoroughly combine. Shape the combination into a compact, rough 10-inch long by 2-inch high by 4-inch high loaf. Wrap the loaf in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and let set for 45 minutes — minimum.

Meanwhile, combine the aioli ingredients and let refrigerate for the flavors to meld.

Coat the meat with the reserved glaze. Wrap the meat in aluminum foil and smoke for approximately 40 minutes. After the time has allotted, remove the foil and smoke for another 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees and remove. Do not fret about “undercooked” pork. The carryover cooking will take the meatloaf to 160 degrees. Tent the loaf with aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 minutes.

The last 10 minutes of rest, butter and toast the sourdough bread slices and preheat the broiler.

Slice the meatloaf into half-inch slices, place on one slice of sourdough. Top it with a slice of cheddar cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese is completely melted. Add the aioli, pickles, onion straws and other slice of bread to complete the sandwich.

If you have not already, devour. If you have restraint (I never do), I would prefer to pair it with some homemade barbecue potato chips and a big icy mug of local beer. Remember to always cook, share and enjoy!

** If you do not have a smoker or grinder, this recipe works great in the oven or grill and pre-ground meat works perfectly.

Check out this recipe to accompany the dish for Tyler’s Housemade Potato Chips

Cookin’ in Camo Chef Tyler Viars
Photos by Tina Marie Photography

About the Chef: An Ohio native and contestant on Fox’ MasterChef, Tyler Viars prides himself as a “rooter to the tooter,” waste-nothing cook. He is also a Whitetail Properties Lands Specialist. Follow and interact with Viars and his Cookin’ in Camo brand on Facebook at


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