Polpettone is the Italian word for meatloaf and literally means large meatball, if we decided to change its name to have the same delicious connotation as an over-sized meatball, meatloaf would probably have a better rep in the States. Something about the words loaf and meat together just sound unappetizing. Italians love polpettone, we went to a friend’s house in Rome, whose mother was in town from Naples, and with bright eyes they told us that she had made polpettone, mmmm, special treat. As an American I thought, mmm, meatloaf and rolled my eyes. Of course it was delicious, but I would have been mortified in high school if I had brought a friend over to my house for dinner and my mother was serving meatloaf. Why does it have such a bad rep here? It is so delicious.


I mixed worlds with my over-sized meatball, browsed the Joy of Cooking, a few Italian cookbooks as well as my memories of past meatloaves and came up with this one. No ketchup in it or on the side of it, one Italian recipe had cinnamon and I loved the sweet spiciness that this added to the meat. I stuck with the rolled oats of a traditional American meatloaf, and didn’t add the breadcrumbs, mainly because it was what I had on hand, but I also think it makes the meatloaf a little lighter. Ground turkey also kept the loaf light, though I encourage you to add a lot of extra flavoring because the leanness of ground turkey does not add a whole lot of flavor.

With mashed potatoes and sautéed swiss chard on the side, this was a delicious dinner for a rainy night.

polpettone polpettone


  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • ½ of a large Spanish onion, chopped (any onion will do, but the color was so pretty with the spinach)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach (you could also use thawed frozen spinach)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp grated parmigiano reggiano
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, for the best results, mix together with your hands until perfectly blended, use a large wooden spoon if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.

Drizzle the olive oil in a baking pan and create your over-sized meatball by creating a little mound in the center of the pan. You could also use a bread pan, but I like the free form loaf so that you get different sized slices.

Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour. There wasn’t any excess fat, but if you decided to use ground beef, you will want to pour off the excess fat before serving it. Enjoy!

polpettone, mashed potatoes and sautéed swiss chard

One Year Ago: Mezze Maniche con i Broccoli Romani, Braised Lentils with Spinach, & Fish, Zucchini & Potato Gratin

~ by italicious on November 16, 2009.

One Response to “Polpettone”

  1. Cool…I’ll have to try this, with an egg baked in the centre when its almost ready!

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