Meatloaf has no Italian ancestry. In fact, meat loaf in its American form as usually found in diners and school cafeterias, is more a child of that all American mother, Betty Crocker. In its traditional American form, meatloaf is often a dull roll of gray meat, glazed in ketchup and served with lumps of flour dense tan gravy. Somewhere along the line,meatloaf jumped the fence into an Italian neighborhood and the dish emerged with a very different form and complexion.
Meatloaf in Italy
. While you can find meatloaf, “polpettone” on Google.it, the dish is not all that common in Italy. The recipe for the image here is from http://blog.giallozafferano.it/ricciaifornelli/polpettone-arrotolato/
Mixed ground meat,
( beef and mortadella)
Salt and pepper
Italian American Meatloaf
In some Italian American versions, peppers entered the mix. Onions and garlic had a stronger influence. Cheeses, hard and soft sometimes entered the mix. And in nearly all Italian American versions tomatoes replaced ketchup. In the version I set out here, the meatloaf takes the form of a roulade where the meat wraps itself around a stuffing of ricotta and spinach.
The meat mix in my recipe, however,is a very curious. It is not at all Italian. Yet, this is exactly what I remember not only my Irish decent mother but my Italian descent aunts putting together. It contains all the Betty Crocker type ingredients: ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. So, while the ingredients in the meat mixture continued in the American tradition, the way the meat was assembled and dressed was distinctly Italian.This was fusion before there was fusion. The proportions for this dish will depend on your needs. One pound of ground beef will serve at least four. In this case, you would need about one half cup of bread crumbs, one egg, a medium onion and two stalks of celery. Mix the ingredients by hand but do not press them. Let them remain very light.
Leftovers with pasta
The meatloaf I suggest below is baked in the over with quartered yellow golden potatoes, a perfect complement. If, however, you still have some meatloaf left after the potatoes are gone, you may want to try serving the meatloaf over a bowl of penne or other similar pasta such as zitti or rigatone. This meatloaf is very tender and breaks up easily over the pasta.
Getting started - what you need