food. family. life.

stuffed meatloaf with tomato & onion ragu

Mammina Loreta has taught me many things about cooking simple classic food over the years. I now love that she and I can teach each other new recipes, new flavors every time we get together. There is one dish that I can remember helping prepare and eat when I was very young, leaving a marked impression on me and my famiglia at the dinner table.

She would prepare a braciole of sorts and stuff the meat with cooked whole eggs, parsley, chopped garlic and grated cheese. She would wrap the meat up and tie it with butcher string (I loved helping her do this) while on the stove a deliciously simple tomato sauce (olive oil, sauteed garlic and canned tomatoes) was simmering away.

She would brown the rolled, stuffed meat on the stovetop and transfer it into a large dutch oven pot, add a glass of wine and the cooked tomato sauce and walk away for about an hour or so.

The finished product was sliced and layered on a serving platter that we would all fight for as we just loved the aroma and the flavors of the cooked meat, the seasonings and that lovely egg in the middle was a wonderful treat.

I find the idea of stuffing meat one of my favorite flavor enhancing methods and have been making a stuffed meatball or meatloaf for my famiglia. I combined Mammina Loreta’s cooked eggs into this concept; me and my famiglia are very happy with the results.

You can find many variations on this stuffed meat concept, the fillings will vary region to region as Italy does what it does best… use local, seasonal flavor ingredients to create simple food masterpieces.

My filling is a simple classic mix found in the area of Rome (Lazio). Feel free to experiment with different fillings but be sure to keep a flavor balance with your combined ingredients for best overall results.

Food memories are wonderful. We all have them. I hope this dish inspires new food ideas that will stay with you and your family for a very long time.


{polpettone ripieno di spinaci e uova}

about 1 lb. ground beef and pork mixture

soft bread crumb (approx. 4 slices without crust) crumbled

2 large organic eggs (raw)

3 tbsp. grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

2-3 tbsp. grated pecorino romano cheese

fresh italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 small shallot, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp. sweet onion chopped

salt and pepper to taste

whole milk

olive oil

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{for the filling}

fresh leaf spinach, washed and prepped

1 small garlic clove

3 large organic eggs, soft or hard boiled

2-3 thin slices of prosciutto ham (if desired)


{for the tomato & onion ragu}

3-4 cups san marzano canned plum tomatoes, chopped finely

2 tbsp. tomato paste

small sweet onion, chopped finely

glass of white wine

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, add a good dash of olive oil and the small sweet onion, chopped. Bring up to heat and allow to saute for just a minute or so.

Add in the canned tomatoes, stirring well until combined with the chopped onion and olive oil.

Bring this to a very slow simmer, add the glass of wine and cook slowly until begins to thicken; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.cucinadimammina_polpettone ripiene_5









In a large mixing bowl, place the ground meat mixture and let it sit, covered, for a few minutes until it comes to room temperature. In a small bowl, place the crumbled soft bread and a dash of milk to soften and break it up; set aside.

Once the meat has rested, season lightly with salt and pepper, add in the two grated cheeses, chopped parsley, chopped shallot and onion, and the two raw whole eggs and the milk-softened bread crumble (fluid drained off.)

Slowly begin to blend these ingredients together by hand without smashing the ground meat. Knead until the mixture is evenly combined and the texture is smooth to the touch. Cover and set aside.

In a small skillet, add some olive oil and garlic clove, peeled and cut into chunks. Bring up to heat until the garlic begins to slowly sizzle, add in the fresh spinach leaves and saute until just wilted; remove from heat and drain any extra liquid; remove garlic clove and toss.

Take the three boiled eggs, peel them and place in a small bowl; season lightly with salt and pepper. Take a large sheet of waxed paper and lay in on your work surface.

Assemble your eggs, sauteed spinach, prosciutto ham around your work area. Take a bit less than half of your ground meat mixture and pat it down onto the waxed paper to form a long rectangle shape, about 3/4 to 1/2 inch thick or so.

Place the sauteed spinach leaves down the center of this rectangle and lay the 3 cooked eggs on top in a row, vertical fashion. Place pieces of the prosciutto on the sides or tops of the eggs.cucinadimammina_polpettone ripiene_21

Now take the remaining meat and start to lay it on top of the fillings, forming a rectangular top while molding it with your hands to the bottom meat mixture, encasing the fillings completely and leaving no holes or cracks.

Use the wax paper to roll the meatloaf, sausage-style up and seal the ends very well. Take the wax paper wrapped meatloaf and place in a container or dish in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to an hour to set the shape/form in place.

Remove the meatloaf  from the cold and let it rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes or so. Bring a large nonstick skillet or dutch oven to medium heat and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Place the meatloaf (with wax paper removed and discarded) and brown the meatloaf bottom until golden and sizzling.

If the meat loaf is easy to turn over, continue to brown on the stovetop until browned on top as well (I find it easier to place the meatloaf into my oven broiler to brown the top; I do not like risking the meatloaf breaking or cracking. Watch it carefully when broiling as you do not want to overcook or burn the meatloaf in the process.)cucinadimammina_polpettone ripiene_23

Place the browned meatloaf on the stovetop and add in the tomato & onion ragu along with some water until the liquid almost covers the meatloaf.

Place a lid cover at a slant and keep the heat at medium or so until the sauce begins to bubble and simmer slowly.

Cook this for about 45 minutes to an hour, turning the sauce a bit every once in a while.

Check the heat and keep the simmer slow, not a rolling boil or the sauce and meat will burn on the bottom.

Remove from the heat and let it rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Note: Photography provided by Annette L. Venditti

Buon Appetito! 

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