Meatloaf! Another word besides “chili” that makes my kids contort their faces in near disgust. I don’t make it often, but then I have been having nostalgic memories of “Xepa” these past several days and I thought I will reach out to my friend about it.
There is a nostalgic story behind “xepa” (a Portuguese word pronounced “shepa”). Back in my undergrad years, I had couple of awesome friends from Brazil. Every year, the International Student Association at the university put in a lot of effort to host one of the most memorable events of the year – International Festival! We students took over the cafeteria kitchen and cooked up various dishes from our different home countries and served them with pride to the attendees amidst international themed entertainment of songs, dances and skits. Ahhhh….what wonderful times!
One year, my two friends (don’t know if it mattered whether I mention they were both men or not, but in case you are wondering, yes, both were!) wanted to make something too. They made a pseudo meatloaf which really was almost a Swiss roll type of dish with various stuffing such as ham, boiled egg, onions etc.! I remember watching them make it with quite a bit of interest as they placed a layer of seasoned beef on an industrial size baking sheet and laying out all these fillings, end result of which was amazing!
Just last week I learned the truth about “xepa” when I asked one of the two guys for the recipe. The two talented “chefs” had actually winged it with that recipe and even came up with a name, which in Portuguese means “grub”. I should have probably guessed I was looking for a recipe that didn’t really exist after I failed to come up with any meaningful Google searches for “stuffed meatloaf” and other similar terms. But what sweet story! 🙂
So, I thought it might be really fun to do a version of that. However, since I had just about a pound of beef on hand, I decided to do it as a layered meatloaf – or ,may be I should call it layered “xepa”!
Going back to my kids, I am happy to report that one of them commented “oh, this is really good. Not like the one they serve in the cafeteria”. That to me translates to “good job Mom!”. 🙂
One important note though – even though it tasted really good, this was a bit on the dry side. I would imagine that was due to the meat being extra lean! We didn’t mind it knowing it was healthier, but just a heads up in case you guys don’t like the drier taste!
1 1/4 lb ground lean or extra lean beef
1 slice bread, soaked in water, and squeezed to remove excess water
1 tablespoon ground flax (flax meal)
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup of thinly sliced onion (white or red)
6-8 thin slices of smoked ham
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
1/4 cup grated white or yellow cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons minced green onions (green parts)
2 slices of center-cut bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1. Mix flax meal in water and set aside for 5-10 minutes. If you don’t want to use flax meal, you can easily substitute one whole egg for the recipe.
2. Prepare meat mixture by kneading the beef with squeezed out bread, flax mixture, salt, black pepper, minced onion and garlic.
3. Layer half the beef mixture in a loaf pan.
4. Distribute sliced onions, sliced ham, grated cheese and about a tablespoon of minced green onions evenly over the beef.
5. Cover with remaining half of the beef mixture.
6. Pour the tomato sauce over the beef and sprinkle with rest of the green onions. If you are using uncooked bacon, you can sprinkle it on top before baking. If using cooked bacon, sprinkle at time of serving.
7. Cover loosely and bake at 375F for 30-40 minutes till meatloaf is done.
I served the “xepa” with steamed veggies and mashed red potato. And it was one delicious dinner!