This recipe is from Tuscany.
Polpettone, aka meatloaf, is one of the dishes I remember my mother preparing as a child. She in turn, had been taught to make it by my real nonna, who I never met since she died before I was born. My mother’s polpettone was delicious, roasted in the oven with lashings of parmesan cheese and perfect potatoes, all held together with a tomato sauce. What memories!
This polpettone is my own version, based on my childhood memories mixed in with a few of my favourite flavours—well I had to use up more of those fennel bulbs, didn’t I? I’ve called it alla Madera since that’s the name of my house here in Tuscany, where it was invented.
Polpettone alla Madera
Preparation time: 15 minutes + 1 hour resting time
Cooking time: 1 hour
Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes
is completely amazing
225g (1/2 pound) minced beef
225g (1/2 pound) minced pork
8g (1 1/2 teaspoons) salt
1/2 bulb fennel, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons breadcrumbs
30g (1 ounce) mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano, grated
15 small potatoes, peeled
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Mix the beef and pork together in a large bowl.
- Add the salt, the fennel, and onion and mix thoroughly.
- Put the eggs and balsamic vinegar in the bowl and mix until they are combined with the meat.
- Add the breadcrumbs and stir until the mixture begins to hold together. If necessary, add more breadcrumbs.
- Put the meat mixture onto a chopping board and flatten until about 2 cm (1 inch) thick.
- Cut the mozzarella into slices and lay it down the middle of the meat leaving a space at each end.
- Fold the meat over the mozzarella and squeeze together into a loaf shape. Grind some black pepper and sprinkle the parmigiano reggiano over the top of the loaf.
- Pour some oil in the bottom of a large roasting tin. Put the polpettone in the tray and then chill for about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into small chunks, about 2cm (1 inch) square. Boil them for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180 °C (355°F).
- Put the potatoes and tomatoes into the tin with the meatloaf, salt, and drizzle them with olive oil.
- Put the tin in the oven and cook for about 1 hour. Check occasionally that the potatoes are not sticking to the bottom of the tray. If they are, add a bit more oil.