Team building, cooking events, catering, parties, and classes in the San Francisco Bay Area

Polpettone al Forno

Yield: 8 moderate servings

  • 1 small onion, or 2-3 shallots coarsely diced
  • 1-1/2 cups small mushrooms (white or brown cultivated), brushed clean of any dirt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • ¼ cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef (or substitute ground turkey)
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese
  • ¼ lb. thin sliced pancetta for the sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups peeled and seeded tomatoes, or 14 ½ oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup beef broth or canned broth

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1) Place diced onion, the mushrooms and peeled garlic in a food processor, process with on-off pulses until finely ground but not mushy. OR, finely dice onion, mince garlic and finely chop mushrooms by hand, then combine. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet, add mushroom mixture, and sauté over medium heat until the vegetables have given up their water and the liquid has evaporated, about 5-8 minutes. Season mixture very generously with salt and pepper, and mix in the parsley at the end.

2) Combine the ground beef, mushroom mixture, bread crumbs, egg, tomato paste, and parmigiano, mixing thoroughly. You will have to use your hands. Pinch off a small bit and fry until done, to test seasoning. Adjust as necessary. Form into a loaf shape on a rimmed baking pan. Cover with thin-sliced pancetta. Roast until internal temperature reaches 140°F., about 40-50 minutes.

3) To make the sauce, mince the garlic, add to the olive oil in a cold pan. Heat over medium-low flame until the garlic is just sizzling a bit. Add the red pepper flakes, then stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and broth. Cook at a steady low boil until reduced just to sauce consistency.

4) When the meatloaf is done, remove with a spatula to a platter. Spoon fat from pan and discard. Add sauce to pan. Cook over low heat to deglaze pan and incorporate all the flavors, scraping up stuck bits with a wooden spatula.

5) Slice and serve polpettone with some of the sauce.