Saturday, 26 March 2011

Baudelaire would have liked it! Polpettone di manzo con patate-Italian Meatloaf

Baudelaire would have liked my Italian meatloaf with potatoes! He would have, because it smells so delizioso! It's a country inspired dish, as it conjures up images of green pastures, milky cheeses from Italy and France (I use mozzarella and French chevre- goat's cheese, very, very nice and full of flavour) pungent red onions and, of course, garlic!

It's a quietly naughty little dish... very versatile, as the delicious potatoes can be a base not just for a meat loaf, as  you could use chicken portions, or lamb chops, or even sausages instead of a meat loaf. Or how about mushrooms, instead of meat, for a vegetarian version, like my Mamma used to make (but don't use those awful anaemic champignons you find in every supermarket. Be creative with mushrooms!)

Polpettone di manzo con patate
(serves 4)

For the meatloaf:

500 gr. extra lean minced beef
1 egg
1 handful Parmesan cheese
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 panini (bread rolls) soaked in water or milk
or: three slices white bread
3 sprigs of flat leaved parsley
1 mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 thick slice of goat's cheese, crumbled
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
freshly milled black pepper

For the base:

4 largish white potatoes, diced
1 red onion, sliced
1white onion, sliced
4 small plum or cherry tomatoes
or: 3 tinned plum tomatoes, crushed
generous handful of Parmesan cheese
2 or 3 glugs Extra Virgin olive oil
freshly milled black pepper
Grated Parmesan

 Begin by making the meatloaf. In a bowl place your mince, egg, chopped parsley, chopped garlic, handful of Parmesan cheese, and mix. The mixture should feel soft and squidgy. Add your bread which you would have previously soaked in water or milk (the liquid needs to be squeezed out of the bread.) Add salt and pepper and mix again, until the ingredients are all blended together. You should by now be smelling the aroma of the garlic and the fresh parley. (BTW: this is the mixture we use for meatballs)

Take the meat out of the bowl and place onto a board. Press down to make a circle about 3 cm thick (about just over 1'')

In the middle of the circle place your cheeses, more Parmesan, chopped garlic, salt, pepper and your boiled eggs, in a row. Look how pretty it all looks! Next, bring the meat up, to make a loaf shape. Pat it down sightly and make sure there are no "holes" where the cheese, once melted can escape from.

In a baking dish, place the potatoes, the sliced onions, your tomatoes, with salt, pepper, maybe some parsley, as it looks pretty. Place the meat loaf in the middle of the potatoes, add enough water to come up to the meatloaf, but don't drown it, please, as it won't taste very good if you do!

Finish of with some olive oil and another generous sprinkling of Parmesan, and, of course, salt and pepper.

The uncooked meatloaf happily surrounded by potatoes and onions

Bake in a hot oven (about 200C/400F/Gas mark 6) for about 45 minutes, or until the meat and the potatoes look a lovely shade of golden brown and at least half of the liquid has reduced. An excellent everyday dish! Try it with chicken instead of the meatloaf. It's very delicate!

Tagliatelle di zucchine

I served my meatloaf with a side dish of Tagliatelle di zucchine (courgettes thinly sliced and cut into thin strips, cooked in olive oil, garlic and chillies, of course) and a crusty panino!

A slice of my meatloaf, looking definitely appetizingly out of focus!

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