The word polpottone translates into English as “big meatball”, the suffix one in Italian signifies largeness. Most people do not associate meatloaf as an Italian dish, yet it is often served as a humble one pan family dinner. As the name polpettone suggests, the ingredients are a mixture very much like what is used in polpette or meatballs. A favorite Italian food blog, Memory of Angelina, recently posted a classic recipe for polpettone along with additional interesting information and variations; if you aren’t a subscriber to Memory of Angelina you really should be.
So you may ask, why another polpettone recipe when a respected blogger has done such a stellar job not so long ago? I simply wanted a tasty recipe that was classic in nature, a bit lighter and without any dairy. Allora Veal Meatloaf or Polpettone di Vitello came into being.
Veal is a bit more costly than pork or beef, but it does add a more sophisticated note to the polpottone – if you could refer to meatloaf as sophisticated. Keeping in mind natural compliments to veal, I wanted to incorporate lemon and nutmeg as seasonings.
Veal is a lean meat which can easily become dry without any additional fat. I was emphatic about not using a top layer of pancetta or prosciutto, but I needed to insure that the finished meatloaf was moist. Incorporating a bit of olive oil and day old country bread soaked in a combination of wine and water did the trick. Partially cooked organic carrots slipped though the formed polpettone added a surprise burst of color.
The beauty of a dish like this is that it is basically a one pan dinner, just surround the meatloaf with some potatoes and roast.
Honestly, it looks and smells absolutely incredible; a light, moist and flavorful lemon scented meatloaf perfect any night of the week or for guests.
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- 2½ lbs., ground veal
- 3 large eggs
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 3 thick slices of day old country bread, crusts removed
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ½ medium onion, chopped and sautéed until golden brown in a bit of olive oil
- 3 Tbs. Italian parsley leaves, chopped
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 5 thin carrots - trimmed, peeled and partially boiled
- 1½ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, wash and with skins intact
- 1 lemon thinly sliced
- 1 lemon thinly sliced and then cut the slices into quarters
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the potatoes in pot filled with water, bring to a boil, add salt and gently boil for 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes, cut the larger ones in half, drizzle the potatoes with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper - set aside.
- Place the day old bread in a bowl along with the ¼ cup of white wine and enough water to just cover, break up the bread into large irregular pieces with your hands. Soak for about 10 minutes then remove the soaked bread squeezing the excess liquid from the sponge like pieces and reserve. The bread is now soft, damp and easily broken into small wet crumbs.
- Place the veal, eggs, lemon zest, nutmeg, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, wet bread crumbs, parsley, sautéed onions, salt and pepper into a large bowl and mix together with your hands. Combine the mixture well but do not compact together.
- Preheat the oven to 375º
- Oil a large heavy duty baking sheet or roasting pan. Take the meatloaf mixture and form it into a rectangle in the center of the pan. Insert the partially boiled carrots through the newly formed meatloaf from both ends in an irregular pattern. Surround the uncooked meatloaf with the seasoned potatoes and sliced lemon quarters. Arrange the sliced lemons over the top of the polpottone and drizzle everything with a bit more olive oil. Place in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, until the meatloaf and potatoes are brown and the lemons begin to caramelize.