Organic Tuscany Cookbook

Polpettone ~ Tuscan Meatloaf

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We always hesitate to call this dish “meatloaf ” because of the possible negative connotations of the word. Rest assured – this dish is colourful, moist, flavoursome and very comforting.

Prep time: 25 mins | Total time: 1 hour 10 mins | Servings: 8


For the decoration inside

  • 1 boiled carrot, sliced lengthways in 4 pieces
  • 1 lightly boiled courgette (zucchini), sliced lengthways in 4 pieces
  • 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs

For the polpettone itself

  • 500g (1 lb) very lean, quality ground beef (or if you don’t mind extra fat, replace a third of this with good sausage meat)
  • Fifth to half a nutmeg, grated (adjust quantity to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 100 g (1/4 lb) Parmesan cheese
  • 100 g (1/4 lb) ricotta cheese
  • 2 boiled, mashed medium potatoes
  • 3 heaped tablespoons flour
  • 50 g (1 cup) breadcrumbs to coat
  • 1 glass white wine (when it is in the oven)
  • 2-3 cups vegetable stock (if necessary – when it is in the oven)

For the sauce

  • 1 kg (2 lb) ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Bunch basil (20 leaves)


  • Mix the ingredients for the polpettone very well, using a fork. (Not the breadcrumbs, wine or stock).
  • Roll/flatten out into a dinner plate size shape.
    polpettone step1
  • Place the vegetables on the rolled mixture.
  • Roll up into a “Yuletide log” shape. Try to seal the seams.
  • The loaf should be compact but not too compact…
    polpettone step3
  • Cover with breadcrumbs.
    polpettone step4
  • Roll the meatloaf in the breadcrumbs.
    polpettone step6
  • Place in an oiled glass oven dish with the seam down (so that it doesn’t open up while cooking).
  • Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes on 200°C until well browned.
  • Add the glass of white wine, baste well and return to the oven. *
  • Meanwhile, make a tomato sauce by cooking the tomatoes slowly with olive oil and garlic, adding basil at the end. Save some leaves for decoration.
  • If you like, press the garlic through a garlic press back into the sauce. If not, discard.
  • Cook the meatloaf for an additional few (around 10) minutes in the sauce. Decorate with basil leaves.


  • You can serve this dish with or without the tomato sauce, as you wish. Without the sauce, it makes great picnic food, served at room temperature.
  • * If you make it without the sauce, you may need to add a cup or two of stock to keep it form going dry (once the wine has evaporated). This depends on how much water comes out of your ricotta, meat etc!

Polpettone ~ Tuscan Meatloaf, 3.7 out of 5 based on 35 ratings

1 Review

Barbara Griffith March 13, 2013

Very colorful moist full with vegetable and chesses an nice Sunday meatloaf

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