Put an Egg In It

sliced polpettone Putting eggs on things is a thing. There are cookbooks about it, like this one and this one. There are lists devoted to it, and even a zine named for it.

I myself like to put eggs on things.

I also like to put eggs in things. Like meatloaf. Especially meatloaf, because ~ let’s face it ~ even if you were to make it with Kobe beef, meatloaf is meatloaf. Eggs, on the other hand, elevate every food they’re associated with ~ literally and figuratively (soufflé, meringues, zabaglione and, well, meatloaf).

polpettone eggs Stuffing meat (either ground or rolled-and-tied roasts) with hard-boiled eggs is nothing new; it’s a classic Italian preparation, a way of dressing up something simple. As a regular practice it seems to have fallen by the wayside, maybe because it involves an extra step or two (cooking the eggs, stuffing the meatloaf), or possibly because it’s been deemed too rich.

polpettone before baking And yet, there’s something festive about slicing into meatloaf on a weeknight and seeing that sunny yolk. (And with Easter just past, chances are you already have the hard-boiled eggs in your fridge, just waiting for their opportunity to elevate something.)

Of course, where there are eggs there must also be bacon, right? Not too much, just one slice on top to add an extra layer of flavor. You could also use thinly sliced pancetta.

polpettone baked Here’s what my son said the other night when I told him we were having meatloaf for dinner: “Is there something I can put on it?” Translation: How can I make it edible?

I told him I had it covered.

* * * * * *

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Book signing and tasting at La Cuisine: I’ll be signing books at La Cuisine, one of my favorite kitchenware stores, in Old Town Alexandria this Saturday, April 26, 2-5 p.m. Copies of The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, The Glorious Pasta of Italy and The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy will all be available, discounted at 20 percent. I’ll also be on hand to talk about my upcoming culinary tours to Abruzzo. Come say hi and join us for a delicious taste of Italy.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Polpettone Farcito {Egg-Stuffed Meatloaf}

This meatloaf is one of those great old classic Italian recipes worth rescuing from obscurity. I've updated it by substituting turkey for beef, which lightens it just a bit. It's easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner but pretty enough (and delicious enough) to serve to company. This is one of my favorite dishes to serve in early spring, when evenings are still chilly. Serve with fresh, in-season asparagus.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 ounces) fresh bread crumbs (see Note)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 raw egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 slice bacon or 3 to 4 thin slices rolled pancetta
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, onion and parsley and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk and let sit 5 minutes. Add the pork, turkey, garlic, cheeses and sautéed vegetables and mix until combined. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Add the beaten egg and mix everything together thoroughly.

Lay a large piece of wax paper (about 12-by-16 inches) on clean work surface and scoop the meatloaf mixture onto it. Using a spatula or your hands, pat the mixture into a rectangle about 9-10 inches long and 4-5 inches wide. Arrange the hard-boiled eggs lengthwise in the center of the rectangle. Use the wax paper to lift up the sides of the meat mixture to cover the eggs, and then, with your hands, finish patting it into an oval-shaped loaf. Make sure the eggs are completely covered by the meat mixture. Top the meatloaf with 1 slice of bacon or 3 to 4 thinly sliced rolled slices of pancetta.

Lightly oil a baking dish large enough to fit the meatloaf. Carefully transfer the meatloaf to the baking dish and pour in the wine. Bake, basting every 15 minutes or so ,until the meatloaf is cooked through and thoroughly browned on top, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should register 160 degrees F. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

To serve, slice thickly and arrange the slices on a platter. Spoon the pan juices over and serve. Leftovers make a great sandwich.

NOTE To make fresh bread crumbs, remove the crusts from a chunk of day-old sturdy Italian or peasant bread. Break it into large pieces and pulse it in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until reduced to coarse crumbs.

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37 Responses to Put an Egg In It

  1. Helen Free April 22, 2014 at 7:48 am #

    This will be in my oven tomorrow. Ground pork and turkey makes this doubly new for us. Thanks for sharing.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

      Thank you, Helen. Hope you make it. It really is good. And I don’t usually love meatloaf.

  2. Rosa Mayland April 22, 2014 at 7:56 am #

    A fabulous meatloaf! Really mouthwatering and festive.

    I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    • Domenica Marchetti April 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

      Thank you Rosa. Love your beautiful egg portrait in this week’s Black & White Wednesday.

  3. staceysnacks April 22, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    I never thought of putting an egg inside meatloaf! My friend’s mom always put a hardboiled egg inside braciole! Will try it!

    • Domenica Marchetti April 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      Stacey ~ there’s a recipe in the soup & stew book for braciole stuffed with egg. I think I called it rotolo di manzi. I love eggs in braciole. But try it in meatloaf, too. You won’t be disappointed.

  4. Helen Horton April 22, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Love it! Meatloaf is one of my favorite comfort dishes and the eggs make it a perfect spring version.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      Yes, eggs to turn meatloaf into a spring recipe, don’t they? That and the turkey, which lightens it all a little. This was the first time I had made it with turkey. Let’s say I wasn’t expecting much but was really pleasantly surprised. Thanks for your comment, Helen.

  5. elisa April 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Che fame!!! I haven’t made a polpettone in a while, I will make it with ground sausage (sans casing) which has already spinach and feta in it. And I will add the eggs and drape it with bacon. Thank you for another mouth-watering recipe!

    • Domenica Marchetti April 23, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Thank you Elisa. Question about the sausage: what ratio of sausage to ground meat do you use? I’ve never added sausage to meatloaf. I imagine it adds lots of flavor.

  6. Ciao Chow Linda April 22, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

    Oh Domenica – This could be straight from the kitchen of my late husband’s relatives near Vasto – they made a meatloaf like this last time I visited.It brought back a pang of nostalgia. But they didn’t put the bacon (or pancetta) on top – great move.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 23, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

      Thank you, Linda. I’m glad to know this recipe appears to have Abruzzese roots. The bacon gave it a nice smoky flavor, of course, but I’m looking forward to trying it with pancetta next time. Cheers.

  7. jamielifesafeast April 23, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    Okay, first off, I thought that you had made bread with an egg in it before I read that it was meatloaf! Second, wow your meatloaf ain’t my mama’s meatloaf and that is a hugely compliment to you – the ingredients give proof to the flavor and it looks delicious! The egg surely makes it more fun and the bacon or pancetta adds even more flavor. It looks perfect.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      Jamie, I think classic American meatloaf suffered from a lack of seasoning. Maybe that was the case with your mom’s. But that was cooking of another era, wasn’t it. I’m sure you would totally do this recipe justice ~ or maybe JP could come up with a Frenchified version!

  8. Frank Fariello April 23, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Very pretty Domenica! I love the idea of slicing into meatloaf and finding a beautiful slice of egg, among multicolored flecks of onion, celery and carrot.

  9. bettyannq @Mango_Queen April 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Oh my heavens, this looks so gorgeous and sooo delicious! I can just picture myself holding up a plate asking you for seconds. It also reminds me a lot of our own Filipino Embutido, especially with the egg embedded within, one of my sons’ favorites. How wonderful to discover that our cuisines are similar in ways we could not have imagined. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ll try it on my family. It’s sure to be another favorite. Hope your week is going great, Domenica. PS: I saw the Abruzzo trip reminder and really want to go, but schedules are hectic this year. Perhaps next time? Hugs 🙂

    • Domenica Marchetti April 23, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      The more I learn about Filipino cuisine, the more I want to know. So fascinating! Thanks for your comment, Betty Ann. And keep the Abruzzo trip in mind for next year. It would be wonderful to have you.

  10. Laney (Ortensia Blu) April 23, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    What a perfect meatloaf Domenica! With or without the eggs, it’s beautiful! (Mine always tastes good but looks like a loaf shaped hamburger:)

    • Domenica Marchetti April 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      Thank you, Laney. You’re right ~ meatloaf is more about taste than looks. I think that’s why it’s often served with gravy. Even this one is…rustic. But the eggs do give it more visual appeal when sliced. I think the shallow baking dish helps too. It browns nicely on top. Cheers, D

  11. Adri April 23, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    I love this stroll down memory lane. Mom (that was what we called our grandmother Angela Barra Crocetti) ALWAYS put eggs in her meatloaf. In fact, because the eggs had such striking visual appeal once the meatloaf was sliced and served, I remember thinking it was more about the eggs than the meat. As kids we thought Mom’s meatloaf an oddity as our own mother used eggs, but they were raw and added as a binding agent. Thanks for sharing this one. It brought back happy memories.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

      Adri, isn’t it something how food ~ even a slice of meatloaf ~ can evoke such memories and emotions. Thanks for your comment.

  12. helenatvine April 23, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    I’m back with an update on my results: A) it’s easy to make B) it’s a brilliant, foolproof recipe C) I can’t wait to make it again and invite someone over to compliment my efforts D) Domenica gave me permission to use the epithet that it’s the crack of meatloaf.

    Disclosure: I don’t do drugs, but I do use figurative language.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 24, 2014 at 9:34 am #

      Ha ha. I have never heard meatloaf compared to crack before. I shall take it as a compliment. So glad you liked it Helen.

  13. Meeta April 24, 2014 at 2:11 am #

    I love eggs! On, in, under, wrapped … in whatever fashion I find they are the savior of many meals. I adore meatloaf but it’s one of those dishes that gets forgotten to be made until I see a post like this to remind me of how comfortable meatloaves are. The best part is always using the leftovers to make meatloaf sandwiches. I often use a mix of beef and pork for my meatloaf – I have to try turkey next time too. Looks divine!

    • Domenica Marchetti April 24, 2014 at 9:35 am #

      Yes! Leftover meatloaf makes the best sandwiches. With some good spicy mustard. Thanks for reading, Meeta.

  14. elisa April 24, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Domenica, I use 2 Lbs. of total sausage, the sausage mix comes already with feta and spinach, the butcher has the mix ready before making the sausages. I love it! And by the way, I crumble the cooked eggs in it, because every time I cut the meatloaf I never get egg slices, just crumbled pieces.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 24, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      I will have to try this, Elisa. I love spinach and feta sausages, but I always thought the texture of sausage would be too coarse to add to meatloaf. As for cutting it, now you have me wracking my brain to remember which knife I used to slice mine. It might have been a serrated tomato knife or a serrated bread knife.

  15. cheri April 24, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    HI Domenica, this looks wonderful and reminds me of a dish my mother-in-law would make at Easter time. I bet the next day it is even better.

    • Domenica Marchetti April 25, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      Yes, it’s SO good the next day, Cheri. Makes an excellent panino. Cheers and thanks for your comment.

  16. Lora @cakeduchess April 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Love this recipe, Domenica! My kids love polpettone farcito. It is even better the next day!! Eggs do elevate every food they’re associated with:))

    • Domenica Marchetti April 29, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      Grazie Lora. I so enjoyed talking with you for Savoring Italy. Un abbraccio

  17. Chiara April 27, 2014 at 4:31 am #

    che bel polpettone con la sorpresa , un piatto che parla di pranzi in famiglia ! Buona domenica cara, un abbraccio !

  18. Alison May 7, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    When I was about 8 years old, my family’s Sicilian landlady (we were living in Rome) brought us a spicy lasagna with hard-boiled eggs in it. It has lived in my memory ever since as one of the most surprisingly delicious dishes I’ve ever eaten! I don’t suppose you have a recipe for something along these lines…? I tried once to recreate it and failed rather spectacularly.

    • Domenica Marchetti May 7, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

      Alison, someone else mentioned lasagne with hard-boiled eggs in it. Rereading the comments here I didn’t see anything, so it might have been someone on Instagram or Facebook. I’ll have to do some sleuthing, but it sounds like it will be worth it. Thanks for writing and stay tuned…

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