Beef and Veal Loaf (Polpettone)

January 27, 2014

This weekend was cold and windy, a good weekend for staying inside and getting some projects done. My husband and I are taking another photo class at the Genesee Center; the class is called “Snapshot to Series” and we’re learning how to progress from taking individual photos to developing a cohesive photo project. We’re supposed to have a project started and bring in a few photos for the next class, but so far I’m not experiencing any moments of brilliance. I could continue my retro food photo project from the summer, but that feels a little bit like cheating. Since I wasn’t coming up with anything, I decided to spend some time catching up with recipes in my blog post drafts.

So… this recipe. It scarred me for life. Quite literally. Thanks to this meatloaf, I now have two ½-inch-long burn scars on my left forearm. I made this over the summer, and the scars are still visible, so I don’t think they’re going away any time soon! Turning over a 10-inch-long loaf in a skillet without a) causing it to fall apart, or b) splashing hot oil all over myself… clearly above my current skills level. However…! The meatloaf was awesomely delicious, so I might be brave enough, next time I find a good price on ground veal, to attempt this again. You wouldn’t think lemon zest would go well with meatloaf, but with the flavors from the wine sauce, it made for a really lovely combination. Next time though, I think I may shape it into 2 smaller stubby loaves rather than one long one. I really don’t want a matching set of scars on my right arm! :)

Beef and veal loaf

Serves 8


  • 4-6  slices Italian bread (4 ounces), crusts discarded, bread cut into 1½-inch pieces (4 cups)
  • 1  cup whole milk
  • 1  pound ground beef, preferably 80% lean
  • 1  pound ground veal
  • 2  large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3  ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped (½ cup)
  • 3/4  cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/3  cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1½  teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1½  teaspoons salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  tablespoons olive oil
  • 1  cup dry white wine


  1. Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Soak bread in milk in small bowl for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine beef, veal, eggs, pancetta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, zest, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Squeeze bread a handful at a time to remove excess milk; finely chop and add to meat. Mix meat mixture with your hands until well combined; do not overmix. Turn out onto a cutting board and shape into a 10-by-4-inch cylinder.
  3. Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Carefully transfer loaf to skillet with two large spatulas and brown on all sides, gently turning with spatulas, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Spoon off fat from skillet, add wine, and deglaze by boiling, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, for 1 minute. Return loaf to skillet, along with any juices accumulated on plate, then transfer skillet to oven. Bake, basting loaf occasionally with pan juices, until thermometer inserted 2 inches into center registers 150 degrees F, about 45 minutes.
  5. Transfer loaf to a cutting board or platter and let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes. Pour pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl and skim fat.
  6. Cut loaf into ½-inch-thick slices and serve with pan juices.

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