When our son went to UC Santa Barbara, he discovered just how bad dorm food can be. Faced with pedestrian choices day after day, he and his friends used to talk about their parents’ cooking, and share what they missed the most on the culinary front. His food memory was my meatloaf, and his friends couldn’t believe that was what he was missing.
Fast forward to his sophomore year, when he and his friends moved into a house in Isla Vista. One night he made this meatloaf. By the time it came out of the oven, all 7 of his housemates were in the kitchen, noses quivering. Our son ate his meal, and put the rest in the refrigerator with stern warnings about pilfering.
The next morning, all his leftovers were gone, and he decided he needed a small refrigerator in his room. Yes, it’s that good.
This is in no way a healthy meal. In fact, it’s about as unhealthy as you can get, but oh, my! It’s really, really good comfort food. The tomato sauce, red wine, cheddar and capers meld together in a complimentary way. Even better than the first night, piping hot from the oven, are the cold meatloaf sandwiches the next day. In fact, it’s what we prefer.
This recipe serves 4-6, or if you’re like us, 2-3 with meatloaf sandwiches the next day. Or two. This recipe will definitely change your mind about any preconceived notions about meatloaf. Yes. It’s that good.
2 lbs ground round
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup red wine (optional)
½ cup crushed crackers or breadcrumbs
2 1/2 cups sharp or extra sharp cheddar, shredded
1 15oz can tomato sauce, or two cups homemade sauce
3T capers, drained (optional)
1T dried oregano plus extra for dusting.
Salt and pepper to taste
If you’re using crackers, (I like Stoned Wheat Crackers) process crushed crackers in a food processor until a crumb-like texture. Pour into a medium bowl. Cut onion into quarters and puree in food processor. Add to crumb mixture, along with garlic, oregano and eggs. Mix until blended. In a large bowl, pour wine over ground round and mix thoroughly. Add onion/breadcrumb mixture. Add the capers, and 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.
Pour meat mixture on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper, and press into a flat rectangular shape, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Spread the remaining cheddar cheese over meat, leaving a border of plain meat around the edges.
Carefully roll the meat and cheese mixture up like a jelly roll, pressing meat seams to prevent cheese leakage. It should look something like this.
Transfer meat to a 9 x 13 pan and pour the can of tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle some extra oregano over the sauce.
This can be made earlier in the day and refrigerated. Bring it back to room temperature before baking.
Bake meatloaf at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on how done you like the meat. Slice and serve.
For incredible meatloaf sandwiches the next day, slice the cold meatloaf and serve on sourdough bread with Dijon mustard and romaine lettuce.