Polpettone al Forno: Italian Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce
4 slices Italian bread, crust removed, broken into rough pieces and soaked in milk
1 c. milk
2 lbs. ground beef
¼ c. sliced proscuitto or other ham, finely chopped
2 large eggs
¼ c. loosely packed chopped parsley
1 c. grated Parmigiano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 c. fine plain bread crumbs
3 Tbs. olive oil
For tomato sauce:
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 cups canned, imported Italian tomatoes with their juices, put through a strainer or food mill to remove seeds
Salt to taste
¼¼ tsp. dried red pepper flakes
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1) Preheat oven to 375o F.
2) Drain the bread and squeeze it with your hands into a soft pulp. In a large bowl, combine the bread, beef, proscuitto, eggs, parsley, and Parmigiano, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well with hands or a large spoon until combined.
3) Shape the mixture into a large rectangular loaf and coat with crumbs.
4) Pour the oil in a large baking dish and place polpettone in it. Brush some oil over the top and bake until golden brown, 45 minutes.
5) While the polpettone bakes, heat the oil for the sauce in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until it begins to color, less than 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add parsley and stir.
6) Carefully tilt the baking dish and discard about tree-quarters of the fat and watery juices that have accumulated. Pour all but ½ cup of the tomato sauce over the polpettone and cook 15-30 minutes longer. Cool 5 minutes before slicing the polpettone. Top with a couple Tbs. of the tomato sauce.
Serves 6 to 8