Polpettone, Italian Beef and Veal Meatloaf in Dry Vermouth

By Irvin Lin
Polpettone is an Italian-style meatloaf made with veal, beef and pancetta. The lack of any tomato sauce and the addition of the grated Parmesan cheese along with the lemon zest, cinnamon and touch of nutmeg in the loaf may seem a bit odd at first but once you taste it, you’ll realize this dish is an easy centerpiece for an Italian feast.
  • Course: Entrée


  • chopped Flat leaf parsley
  • Dry vermouth
  • eggs
  • finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Ground Beef
  • Ground cinnamon
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground veal
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • kosher salt
  • olive oil
  • onion
  • Pancetta
  • thick crust Italian bread slices
  • Whole milk
  • Zest from 1 lemon


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the bread into cubes and place on a baking sheet. Toast in oven for 10 minutes, or until dry. Place 1/2 of the toasted bread in a medium sized bowl reserving the other half of the bread for later. Pour the milk over the bread in the bowl. Let the bread absorb the milk while you make the meatloaf. Don’t turn the oven off.
  2. Place the beef, veal and pancetta in a large bowl. Add the Parmesan, 1/2 of the parsley, lemon zest, juice, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Chop the milky bread into small bits and add to the bowl. Beat the two eggs together with a fork and add to the bowl. Using your hands, massage all the ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Wet your hands lightly with water and then form an 8-inch long loaf.
  3. Take the remaining toasted dry bread cubes and chop place them in a food processor. Process until they are crumbs. Pour out the crumbs onto a baking sheet and add the remaining parsley. Stir to mix together then spread out on the baking sheet to an even layer. Take the meatloaf and roll it in the parsley bread crumbs until the loaf is completely coated.
  4. Heat the olive oil in the pan on medium heat until it shimmers and then carefully move the meatloaf to the pan. Brown each side of the meatloaf for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the side is golden brown. Carefully remove the meatloaf to a plate using two spatulas and add the chopped onion to the hot pan. Cook the onions until they start to soften. Move the meatloaf back to the pan and place on top of the onions. Pour the vermouth over the meatloaf and move the pan to the oven.
  5. Bake the meatloaf uncovered, basting the meatloaf 2 or 3 times with the pan drippings, for 45-55 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the middle of the meatloaf comes out to 150°F. Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cutting board and slicing. Serve with the onions pan juices.