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We always hesitate to call this dish “meatloaf ” at our cooking school in Italy 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.
- 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…
- Cover with breadcrumbs.
- Roll the meatloaf in the breadcrumbs.
- 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,