- 1 kg (2 lbs) chopped beef, veal and/or pork, in equal amounts
- 100g (3-1/2 oz) grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2 large slices of good bread, preferably homemade, soaked in water, squeezed dry and shredded
- 3-4 clove of garlic, finely minced into the bowl, finely chopped garlic
- A sprig or two of parsley, finely minced
- Freshly ground pepper
For the stuffing
- A ball of mozzarella or scamorza, sliced
- Potatoes, left whole if small or otherwise peeled or cut into wedges, as many as you like
- A few cherry tomatoes (optional)
- A splash of white wine
- Mix all the ingredients together very well—you’ll need your hands for the job—until you have an evenly amalgmated mixture. Form into an oval loaf.
- If you want to, open up a fairly deep well in the middle of the loaf and add slices of mozzarella or another meltable cheese like scamorza. Close up the well and reform the loaf.
- Now place the loaf in a baking dish.
- Toss the potatoes, along with a few cherry tomatoes or wedges of regular tomatoes, with olive oil, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl until the potatoes (and tomatoes if using) are well coated. Pour them around the meatloaf. Splash on a bit of white wine over everything.
- Bake in a hot oven (200 C, 400 F) for 45 minutes to an hour, tossing the potatoes and basting the loaf from time to time with the cooking juices, until the polpettone is nicely browned and the potatoes are tender and just lightly spottled on the outside. The potatoes are done when you stick a knife in them and the potato stays where it is when you lift it out.
- Serve the polpettone whole, if you like, directly from the baking dish for a ‘family style’ meal, or slice it attractively on a serving plate, surrounded by the potatoes. Either way, don’t forget the cooking juices, which are absolutely fabulous. There will be little bits of coagulated milk floating around. They may look unattactive but they really delicious. If you want to be fancy, you could smooth out the sauce by either sieving or blending it.
Source: Memorie di Angelina
If you prefer, the polpettone can be made entirely from beef, or I suppose entirely from pork. I would think that a veal-only meatloaf would be rather bland—and expensive!
Besides cheese, there are a variety of stuffings that you can try out. Some common ones include vegetables like spinach, mortadella, prosciutto and hard boiled eggs, but really, you should feel free to use your imagination and suit your own taste. The possibilities really are endless.
It is very common for Italian recipes to call for browning the polpettone on all sides in butter or oil in a Dutch oven and then simmering it, covered, on top of the stove. I’ve tried it that way and the initial browning can be tricky—it is all too easy for the polpettone to break apart when you turn it. See my other post on polpettone braised with tomatoes and mushrooms for an example of this technique, which gives you get a delightful sauce to serve with the loaf or to dress pasta.