Meatloaf is personal. Every cook has a preferred combination of ingredients for this main dish. If you have not made Italian meatloaf, called polpettone, try this easy recipe. Choose the ground meat or poultry mixture you prefer. Add breadcrumbs or your favorite ingredient that maintains moisture and gives softness to the texture, such as cooked rice or grain. Milk or water adds moisture back into the mixture, while the beaten egg holds in juices. In the tradition of Emilia-Romagna, home of mortadella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and balsamic vinegar, adding these three food products makes your polpettone full of Italian goodness! It is savory, juicy, and slightly sweet, an ideal blend of satisfying flavors. Serve balsamic vinegar for drizzling over the sliced meatloaf.
4 servings. Cooking time is 1 hour 15 minutes.
2 pounds (910 g) ground meatloaf mix (such as ground sirloin, veal, and pork)
4 ounces (115 g) ground mortadella
3/4 cup (3 ounces or 85 g) fine dried plain breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons milk or water
1/4 small yellow or red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup (1 ounce or 28 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Garlic, grated or finely chopped to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (aged 5 to 8 years)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Basting Meatloaf: Same balsamic vinegar
1 pound (454 g) yellow potatoes (4 large)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) cooking water from potatoes
Garnish: Same balsamic vinegar for drizzling over sliced meatloaf at table side
1. Combine Meatloaf Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and allow flavors to blend for an hour before shaping, or refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350° F/175° C/Gas Mark 4. Remove the meatloaf mixture from refrigeration. Rinse your hands under cold running water and drain them but do not dry them. This helps prevent the meat from sticking to your hands. It is easiest to handle ground mixture while it is cold, and your hands are wet. Shape the mixture into a loaf, pressing it together loosely but firmly so it adheres; do not pack it or it becomes hard and tough. Place in the center of an ovenproof pan. For even cooking, allow the chill to dissipate, so wait for 30 to 45 minutes before baking. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and reserve.
3. Potatoes: Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut them into 3/4-inch (2-cm) cubes. In a pot, bring salted water to a rolling boil over high heat, and add the potatoes. Scoop out 1/4 cup (60 ml) cooking water and reserve. Cook the potatoes just until their surface turns translucent, for about 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes, leaving them a little wet on the surface, and immediately toss them with a few spoonfuls of olive oil lightly coating the potatoes. Nestle the potatoes in the roasting pan surrounding the meatloaf. Pour some or all of the reserved 1/4 cup (60 ml) cooking water into the bottom of the pan so it looks moist; this water evaporates during baking but helps maintain moisture. Lightly brush the meatloaf with some additional balsamic vinegar.
4. Place the pan in the center of the oven, and continue baking for 1 hour. Turn over the potatoes for even browning 1 to 2 times during this cooking, and lightly brush the meatloaf again with balsamic vinegar. Remove it from the oven when it has a beautiful light brown surface. (Internal temperature should be 165° F/74° C or higher.) Allow the meatloaf to set for a few minutes so the juices redistribute. Arrange on serving plates, drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar to enjoy this treat from Emilia-Romagna!