Polpettone, an Italian Meatloaf

The humble meatloaf is often underestimated but it can make a satisfying and tasty meal eaten hot from the oven or sliced cold. This recipe is for ‘Polpettone’ which in Italian means large meatball and is an Italian meatloaf. It usually uses a number of different minced meats, herbs and spices to give it a great flavour.

You can use beef mince, pork and veal mince or any combination that you may have at hand. Here, I had a good beef mince and I have taken the casings off 3 tasty, peppery, Italian pork sausages to add some flavourful pork meat and fat into the mix. Plenty grated Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, moistened fresh bread, spices and olive oil and a dash of Worcestershire (not Italian, but because it adds flavour) makes the mix for this polpettone rich and delicious.

The dpolpettone is then rolled in breadcrumbs and then sprayed with olive oil and after 30 minutes baking in the oven, surrounded with par boiled potatoes and some pumpkin to complete its 90 minute cooking time.

You can make one large polpettone or as I have, two small ones. This means that there will be one to eat and the other to cut cold or freeze for another meal. This is a sustainable way to use the energy in producing a meal to provide for other meals and so use energy wisely every time we cook.

The polpettone mixture can also be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge ready for forming and baking the next day.

Although the polpettone itself is very moist, I have also included the recipe for a quick onion gravy for some extra richness alongside.

Eaten in hot slices with a variety baked and steamed vegetables or sliced cold in sandwiches made from crusty sourdough bread, or re-heated to have with mashed potatoes on another occasion, you will find that the humble polpettone can be elevated to something flavourful and special.

Polpettone, an Italian Meatloaf



  • 500g beef mince
  • 3 Italian pork sausages (about 300g), casings removed and sausage meat broken up
  • 2 slices wholemeal bread, torn into small pieces
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tblsp fresh rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
  • 2 /3 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tsp McCormick’s Chicken Seasoning (or other similar seasoning)
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • 3 Tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tblps Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 3 dashes of Worcester sauce
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Olive Oil Spray

Baked Vegetables:

  • Red potatoes, as needed, peeled and cut into pieces
  • Pumpkin cut into pieces
  • 2 Sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tblsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Quick Onion Gravy:

  • 1 Spanish onion, sliced in rings
  • 2 Tblsp Olive oil
  • 1 small knob of butter
  • 1 Tblsp Brown Malt Vinegar
  • 2 Tblsp sugar (to taste)
  • 2 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tblsp Self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups lukewarm water


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C fan forced and line a baking tray with baking paper
  2. In a small bowl the bread pieces, pour the milk over to cover and allow to absorb
  3. Then squeeze the bread removing the milk. The bread should be just moist
  4. Into a large bowl, place the mince steak, sausage meat,and the bread

5. Add the chopped parsley, chopped rosemary, chopped sage, minced garlic

6. Season with salt and pepper and Chicken Seasoning

7. Make a well in the centre and sprinkle over the Worcestershire sauce and add olive oil

8. Add the lightly beaten egg

9.Then, using your hands, thoroughly combine everything until it is a homogeneous mixture. You may find that using disposable gloves for food handling may make this step easier

10. The final mixture should be well combined with all the bread thoroughly mixed in and will be a mixture that holds together. This may take a few minutes to achieve

11. Place the mixture into a clean bowl lined with cling wrap and cover and place into the fridge for an hour. (You may even place the mixture in the fridge overnight to make the next day)

Wrap polpettone mix and place in fridge for an hour.

12. When ready to cook the Polpettone, you can make one large loaf or divide the mixture to make 2 smaller ones as I have done. Each loaf weighs about 400g.

13. When ready to form the mixture into a loaf shape, place the polpettone mix onto a piece of cling wrap and tightly wrap it around the mixture to help form it into a log shape. This will be an easy and clean way to form the Polpettone into a loaf pressing it into the desired shape

Mixture divided int two with each tightened into a log with cling wrap.

14. Roll the Polpettone log/s in bread crumbs and set into a baking dish lined with baking paper

The crumbed loaves on baking paper ready to be sprayed with olive oil.

15. Spray the polpettone well with olive oil spray all around the loaf and place the tray into the pre-heated oven

16. Meanwhile prepare the potatoes. Place potato pieces into a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat to medium and boil for 10 minutes.

17. Then strain the potatoes of all the water keeping them in the saucepan. Put on the lid an agitate the pieces briefly to create roughened edges. Allow the potatoes to steam in the pot for 10 minutes before adding them to the baking tray

18. After the polpettone have been baking for 30 minutes, take tray out briefly and surround prepared loaves with the potatoes and pumpkin pieces and spray the vegetables well with olive oil spray

After 30 minutes the vegetables are added to the polpettone to bake for a further hour.

19. Scatter chopped sage leaves over the pumpkin and chopped rosemary, freshly ground pepper and sea salt flakes over the potatoes

20. Place the tray back into the oven and bake for a further 60 minutes or until the juices run clear when tested with a skewer and the vegetables are nicely roasted Cover with aluminium foil if the loaf or vegetables are browning too quickly.

21. Close to end of baking time prepare the quick onion gravy

22. In a frypan, heat the olive oil with the knob of butter till it foams

23. Over a medium-low heat add the onion rings and allow to cook until transparent and well caramelized. Do this with a lid on and add a little hot water from time to time to prevent the onions catching. It will take about 10 minutes

Spanish onions caramelizing.

24. In a medium jug, mix sugar, malt vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and self-raising flour. Add the lukewarm water and whisk until smoothly combined

25. When the onion rings are sweet and caramelized, pour the sauce over and cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens. Keep warm and serve with the Polpettone as desired

The thickening onion gravy.

26. When fully cooked, remove the polpettone from the oven onto a bowl and cover well with aluminium foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with the baked vegetables, and others such as green beans or a green garden salad. Serve with a little quick onion gravy.

The moist and flavourful polpettone with baked vegetables

27. If you make two smaller polpettone loaves you can freeze one for another time

28. Polpettone is also nice sliced cold for sandwiches or for a tasty snack or re- heated for another meal

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