Meat Loaf

(“Polpettone” – “Bruciulune”)


 


Since I can remember, my Aunt Francesca, who lived in our home, was in charge of all the food shopping. 
Every day she would spend part of the afternoon shopping alla Vucciria, Palermo’s most famous open food market, looking for the best food at the most convenient price. She was successful most of the time and on our table we had the best vegetables and the best fish. 
Meat was a different story!..
I suspect that my aunt was a vegetarian; in fact I rarely or maybe never seen her eat meat. 
When she went shopping for meat, she would request to Mr. Giarrusso, our family butcher, to cut the fettine,sliced beef  to pan-roast, very thin and less than a quarter of a pound each. 
She was not following the Mediterranean diet or concerned about the cholesterol, but worrying how the expensive meat would affect the family budget. The best deal was always chopped meat and she supervised the butcher in preparing it, to make sure that he would ground the right cut of beef. With it she made delicious meatballs or brociolone, meatloaf prepared with skill and cooked to perfection.

 

                           Polpettone


In the old days, with the exception of a few cuts, meat was tough. The norm was to butcher the old ox and use the young bulls to work in the field. The best way to utilize this tough and dry meat was to boil it until it was tender or chop it to make meatloaf or meatballs.
Meatloaf is made all over the world, and each district, each town, each nation has their own way of making it. It’s prepared with different spices, baked or fried and covered with many different sauces or vegetables.
Aunt Francesca made the meatloaf very different in fact it looked like a jelly roll and when cut it had a colorful and appealing pinwheel design, apart from the delicious taste.
Of course I believed that the meatloaf made in my home was the best in the world and today, when I eat it, memories of past days come back to me. Recollections of lazy Sundays spent with the family, listening to the radio and at the same time arguing with my siblings about sports, politics or any other current events. But let’s go back to the meatloaf....

 

Serves 4 to 6

 

Ingredients:

For the Meat Mixture

  • 2 lb of chopped meat
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup of your preferred grated cheese
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ small onion minced
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • ½ cup tomato sauce (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 tablespoons Pinoli nuts
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Some oil to spread on aluminum foil

For the Stuffing

  • 4 slices of Provoletta or American cheese
  • 3 oz . Provolone cheese, diced
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
  • 4 oz. of your preferred salami or ham, sliced
  • 4 oz. frozen peas, cooked as per directions
  • 2 roasted red peppers or pimento cut in strips

For the Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 oz. butter
  • ½ medium onion, minced
  • 12 oz sliced mushrooms or 8 oz of frozen peas
  • ¼ cup of chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup mixture of water and wine or Marsala (optional) mixed in equal proportions
  • some parsley to garnish

 

Preparation

The Meat
In a large bowl combine ground beef and all the ingredients. Mix well until the combination is homogenous.

The Loaf
Coat a sheet of aluminum foil with oil, place it in a 13” X 9” baking pan and spread meat mixture on it, in a rectangular form about 8” X 12”, making it thicker in the center and thinner on the sides.
On the longer side, place the sliced cheese in the center, spreading it lengthwise. On top of it, covering the whole length put the sliced eggs than the diced Provolone, salami or ham, peas and the red pepper or pimento.
With the help of the foil paper roll one side of the meat on top of the stuffing and then roll the other side on top of it. Wet your hands with oil and shape it to form a loaf in the shape of salami.
Wrap it with the aluminum paper and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

The Sauce
Over a medium heat, in a 2 quart saucepan combine the oil, butter, onions and sauté until translucent. Add mushrooms or peas, salt and pepper to taste and cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Add water and wine mixture, reduce a few minutes, add parsley and simmer for additional 5 minutes.

The Serving
Cool meatloaf a few minutes, unwrap, cut it in 3/4 to 1 inch slices and place in a serving dish. Cover with mushroom or pea sauce and garnish with parsley.

 

                     Meat Loaf