Florentine meatloaf

Florentine meatloaf

Polpettone alla fiorentina

Lauren Bamford

Meatloaf is not the prettiest dish but it is homely and incredibly satisfying, a meal that will feed the whole family and hopefully give you some leftovers, too. In fact, like so many Florentine dishes, this is better the day after it is cooked. Those in the know actually wait until the next day to serve it, because when it’s sliced cool it tends to crumble less. Some like to brush egg white over the loaf to help hold it together.

Serve polpettone in thick slices with a generous dollop of tomato sauce heaped over the top, some crusty Tuscan bread and a green salad or some spinach sautéed with some garlic and olive oil.


Quantity Ingredient
400g lean minced beef
100g prosciutto, finely chopped
40g pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg
pinch nutmeg
pinch ground fennel seeds
plain flour, for dusting
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
A pinch salt
400g tomato passata, (puréed tomatoes)
2 fresh bay leaves
1 rosemary sprig
tuscan bread, to serve


  1. In a wide bowl, combine the beef, prosciutto, cheese, egg, nutmeg, fennel seeds and season generously with salt and pepper. Shape into a compact loaf, patting down firmly, then place on a plate or tray, covered in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Dust the meatloaf evenly in a light coating of flour. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat and sear the meatloaf to brown on all sides, turning carefully. With the meatloaf still in the pan, turn the heat down to low and add the celery, carrot, onion and salt. Cook gently, stirring around the meatloaf so as not to disturb it, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato passata, 200 ml water and the herbs, and season again with salt and pepper. Let it simmer, covered, for 50 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the sauce has thickened slightly, at least 10 more minutes. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprig before serving.
  4. Cut the meatloaf into slices about 2 cm thick. Serve a slice of meatloaf with a generous dollop of the sauce over the top and with crusty bread.


  • If you can make the meatloaf in advance or have leftovers, the meatloaf can be sliced when cool, which is easier. It can then be reheated gently and very carefully in the sauce, and it will be all the tastier the next day as well.
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