Meat and Poultry

Polpettone (Italian meatloaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

Nicoletta February 1, 2018

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Polpettone (Italian meatloaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta, is a rich and tasty meat dish that kids and grown-ups will love. Extra-lean ground beef, shredded mortadella, ricotta, Parmigiano, and pistachios are the main ingredients of this Italian delicacy. Cooked in white wine becomes extra tender and juicy!

Song of the day: James Blunt – Heart To Heart.

Polpettone (Italian Meat Loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

You may wonder how come this Polpettone is my recipe and not Loreto’s. Aren’t you vegetarian (at times, pescatarian) and prefer baking and sweet things? I hear you asking. Yes, I am, but before being a vegetarian, this Polpettone was among the very few meat dishes that I ate and also cooked.



In my first years living with Loreto in Canada, few were the dishes I ventured to make. I enjoyed Loreto’s cooking, his ethnic foods and unusual -for me- spices and flavors, and I did not “dare” contribute to the meals with my Italian heritage. One of the first things I made, though, was not a sweet thing, but this very Polpettone (Italian meatloaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta, that after being very much enjoyed by the family, became a regular weeknight meal, and one that I could make for Loreto.

At that time, I still ate some meat, on occasions, and I really liked this Polpettone. Moist and super tasty, it is not your usual meatloaf, hosting diverse flavors and textures added to the organic ground beef: the ricotta, the shredded mortadella, the chopped pistachios, the grated Parmigiano. Plus, the usual eggs, parsley, salt and pepper, and breadcrumbs.

Polpettone (Italian Meat Loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

In Italy Polpettone is a free-form loaf; you will never see anybody using the loaf pan, which is reserved for a sweet baked good called Plumcake (that is a very basic, but delicious, yogurt loaf cake that doesn’t have any plums in it, lol).

When blending all the ingredients, start with a wooden spoon, but then use your clean hands. Polpettone, as well as Polpette (meatballs), is a hands-on affair, you need to feel the consistency and the mingling of the ingredients. Shape it into an oval, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, and lay it on a baking dish to be baked in the oven, not forgetting all that love infused into the moistness of this Polpettone.

Polpettone (Italian Meat Loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

In my recipe, some white wine is poured at the bottom of the dish, and it is also used to baste the meatloaf while it is cooking, thus ensuring the most flavorful and moist meat. For a kid-free version, you could use some broth, but anyway, all the alcohol is cooked out and I am sure the kids would enjoy it because it gives such a delicious flavor.  To make sure the meat is cooked all the way through, I used a thermometer, right in the middle. When it reads 165° F the meat is ready. The pinkish hue is due to the mortadella, and it is speckled with the green of the pistachios.

Polpettone (Italian Meat Loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

Look at that wonderful crust that has developed. It just screams flavor and texture with those breadcrumbs toasted and the caramelization of the mortadella and ground beef. The aroma alone will have some stomach growling, I know that for sure. The kitchen fills with beautiful smells that bring everyone in to see what’s cooking!

Polpettone (Italian Meat Loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

There is a wonderful richness that comes from all the ingredients blended together and that makes this Polpettone so luxurious. The white wine brings a bit of fruity acidity that works so well to spike all the flavors: the sweetness from the ricotta, cinnamon, and mortadella, the nuttiness from the pistachios, the sharpness of the Parmigiano, just to mention a few. All these flavors will play with your taste buds with balance, poise, and unity, to make this Polpettone an all-round delicious recipe. Loreto is quick to get some bread and grace it with a nice plump piece of the great Italian classic and as usual, adding his quick humor to say “Now that’s one very good meatta ball”!

If you want to change things up a bit and present to the table a different version of a family favorite, try this Polpettone (Italian meatloaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta, you won’t be disappointed.

Polpettone (Italian Meat Loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

It truly is delicious!


Song of the day: James Blunt – Heart To Heart.

Polpettone (Italian Meat Loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

Polpettone (Italian meat loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 05 minute
  • Yield: 4 good-size servings 1x
  • Category: Main, Meat
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian


Polpettone (Italian meatloaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta, is a rich and tasty meat dish that kids and grown-ups will love. Extra-lean ground beef, shredded mortadella, ricotta, Parmigiano, and pistachios are the main ingredients of this Italian delicacy. Cooked in white wine becomes extra tender and juicy!


  • 500 g organic extra lean ground beef
  • 100 g (45 slices) Italian Mortadella shredded
  • 90 g (1/3 cup) Ricotta
  • 50g (1/2 cup) grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 large egg, organic free-range
  • 15 g (a large handful) pistachios, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup of stale crustless bread (broken up into small pieces) soaked in1/8 cup  milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs for topping
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • evo  oil for finishing


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F (190° C).
  2. In a big bowl mix ground beef, shredded mortadella, ricotta, grated Grana Padano, egg, chopped pistachio, parsley, garlic powder, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
  3. Squeeze milk-soaked bread and add to the mixture. Discard milk. Mix well first with a wooden spoon then with your hands until well incorporated.
  4. Form into a large oval on a plate and coat with breadcrumbs all over completely coating the polpettone.
  5. Drizzle olive oil at the bottom of an oven-safe baking dish, gently place the polpettone in. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and pour wine all around the polpettone and into the dish. Do not pour the wine on top of the polpettone.
  6. Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, basting it once or twice with the juices from the dish to keep it moist. Do this until a meat thermometer placed in the middle of the thickest part reads 165° F.
  7. Take out o the oven and let sit 10 minutes before cutting.
  8. Slice and serve with your favorite side dish.


Recommended side dishes: roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, sauteed greens (kale, spinach, broccoli rabe, cicoria), and/or a fresh salad.

Any leftovers, the next day make for a great sandwich (panino).

Keep any leftovers in the fridge in a sealed container.

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Polpettone (Italian Meat Loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

Post e Ricetta in Italiano

I primi anni in cui vivevo in Canada con Loreto, pochi furono i piatti che mi avventurai a preparare. Mi godevo la cucina di Loreto, molto spesso etnica e con tanti sapori a me sconosciuti, e non mi azzardavo a contribuire ai pasti con il mio bagaglio di ricette Italiane. Una delle prime cose che preparai, però, fu questo Polpettone con Mortadella e Ricotta, che essendo piaciuto a tutta la famiglia, divenne un piatto regolare della settimana.

A quel tempo mangiavo ancora carne, di tanto in tanto, e questo Polpettone mi piaceva davvero. Morbido, non secco, con sapori e consistenze diverse grazie a dell’ottimo macinato, la ricotta, la mortadella, i pistacchi, il Grana (o Parmigiano). Più le solite uova, prezzemolo, sale e pepe, e pangrattato. In Italia, il Polpettone è a forma libera, a differenza del Nord America, dove il Polpettone si chiama Meat Loaf dal nome proprio della teglia in cui viene cotto (loaf pan) e che gli dà una forma rettangolare precisa e squadrata.

Dopo che gli ingredienti sono ben amalgamati, con le mani che è meglio, al Polpettone viene data una forma ovale, viene spolverato di pangrattato e messo in una teglia. Poi, nella ricetta che ho io, sul fondo viene versato mezzo bicchiere di vino bianco e che io verso sul polpettone anche durante la cottura per mantenerlo umido e morbido e che contribuisce anche a dargli un ottimo sapore. Se volete servirlo a dei bambini potete optare per un po’ di brodo, oppure di latte.

Per assicurarmi che il polpettone fosse ben cotto, io ho usato un termometro per carni, inserito nel centro e che mi ha assicurato una cottura perfetta. Il colore rosato che si vede all’interno è dovuto alla mortadella ed è punteggiato dal verde dei pistacchi.

Se volete cambiare un po’ le cose e portare in tavola una versione un po’ diversa di uno dei piatti preferiti dalle famiglie, provate questo Polpettone con Mortadella e Ricotta, non ve ne pentirete.

Polpettone (Italian Meat Loaf) with Mortadella and Ricotta

Polpettone con Mortadella e Ricotta

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Category: Secondo, Carni
  • Method: Cottura al forno
  • Cuisine: Italiana


  • 500 g macinato biologico
  • 100 g mortadella
  • 90 g ricotta
  • cannella
  • 50 g Grana Padano o Parmigiano Reggiano
  • una manciata di pistacchi, tritati
  • prezzemolo tritato
  • 1 uovo, biologico da allevamento a terra
  • una mancita di pane raffermo bagnato nel latte e poi strizzato
  • sale e pepe
  • pan grattato
  • 1/4 bicchiere di vino bianco


  1. Preriscaldare il forno a 190 ° C (375 ° F).
  2. In una ciotolagrande mescolare carne macinata, mortadella tritata, ricotta, grana padano grattugiato, uovo, pistacchi tritati, prezzemolo, polvere d’aglio, cannella, sale e pepe.
  3. Strizzare il pane imbevuto di latte e aggiungere al composto. Mescolare bene prima con un cucchiaio di legno e poi con le mani.
  4. Formare un polpettone ovale e cospargere di pangrattato.
  5. Mettere in una pirofila da forno, finire con un filo di olio d’oliva, versare il vino nel fondo del piatto.
  6. Posizionare sulla griglia centrale del forno e cuocere per circa 55 minuti, bagnandolo di tanto in tanto con il vino per mantenerlo morbido.
  7. Tirare fuori dal forno e lasciar riposare 10 minuti.
  8. Tagliare a fette e servire con il contorno preferito.
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  • Avatar
    Reply Milena Perrine February 1, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    I am so happy you made this polpettone for the blog! I will make it for our family and will probably use a pilsner in lieu of the white wine, because I love how it tastes with ground meat (beef or pork). I am so taken by the shredded mortadella mixed in with the ground meat. Chris loves mortadella. And the ricotta lending moisture to the beef. And soaking the bread in milk like my grandma used to. I love the looks of the sauce that forms around the bottom from the wine. Just waiting to be mopped with fresh bread or drizzled over the pieces of meatloaf. So love this recipe. Thank you, Nicoletta. Pinned!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 2, 2018 at 10:36 am

      I am so happy you like the recipe and you’re going to make it! the idea of the pilsner is great, will make a wonderful sauce at the bottom! Let me know how you like it. Thank you, Milena!

  • Avatar
    Reply Margaret@Kitchen Frau February 1, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    Our family absolutely LOVES meatloaf – this is one version I just have to try! It will be fun to change it up from my usual version. I love the idea of mortadella and ricotta in there – it must make it extra moist and creamy! Can’t wait to make it and shake up our meatloaf repertoire a bit 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 2, 2018 at 10:38 am

      Thank you Margaret! If your family loves meat loaf, then you have to try this new Italian version 🙂 . It is super moist and very flavorful. Let me know!

  • Avatar
    Reply thesweetworldsite February 1, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    It looks so good! I love meat loaf, so this will be a new one for me to try! Your pictures look really nice! Thanks for sharing this recipe! Here are calzones that I recently made for dinner and my family loved them. Hope you give them a try and enjoy them too 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 2, 2018 at 10:41 am

      Thanks! Hope you try it and like it as much as my family does. I saw your calzoni and they look great! We’ve always said we need to post a recipe, people love them.

      • Avatar
        Reply thesweetworldsite February 2, 2018 at 10:43 am

        They are really wonderful and I like that everyone can make it how they like it with their favorite filling!

  • Avatar
    Reply Cynthia February 2, 2018 at 10:09 am

    This looks so good! I like that it’s a free-form meat loaf. My toddler LOVES cheese. So, we will have to try this recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 2, 2018 at 10:43 am

      Thanks Cynthia, it is really flavorful and free form is the only way I’ve always known 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Wanda Baker February 2, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Free form meatloaf is the only way to go! And wow both ricotta and mortadella! Sounds so tasty!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 2, 2018 at 10:45 am

      Yes! Free form meat loaf is the only way I know 🙂 . Thanks so much!!

  • Avatar
    Reply Yvonne Langen February 2, 2018 at 10:31 am

    I NEED to try this! Most of my coworkers are Italian, I will make this for them and shock them with my Italian culinary know-how that you’ve imparted to me in this recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 2, 2018 at 10:47 am

      Ah ah, nice 🙂 . Thank you for your comment!

  • Avatar
    Reply Denise from Urb'n'Spice February 2, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Meat Loaf is such a wonderful comfort food, isn’t it? I love your version with the addition of mortadella and pistachios – it elevates meat loaf to company status. It is also a very attractive meat loaf. The idea of basting with wine is such a great idea, too! Thanks so much as always for sharing your stories and your wonderful recipes. I always want to make each and every one!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 2, 2018 at 10:51 am

      Thank you so so much, Denise! I don’t eat it anymore but Loreto and my step son are always so happy when I make it, it must be tasty 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Natalie Browne February 4, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Meatloaf is always a favourite at our house. But, your version with pistachios and mortadella takes it to another level. I’m adding it to my meal plan this week 😊

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 4, 2018 at 10:21 am

      Thank you, Natalie! This is a favorite of ours, hope you like it as well!!

  • Avatar
    Reply Isadora Guidoni February 6, 2018 at 10:01 am

    This meatloaf looks heavenly! I’m really looking forward to making it!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 6, 2018 at 11:14 am

      Thank you! It is delicious.

  • Avatar
    Reply kristy February 6, 2018 at 11:37 am

    I always love Italian food and this one looks so amazing! Can’t wait to make it early. Thank you for sharing such a nice post. 🙂

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta December 3, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you! It truly is a delicious Italian dish!

  • Avatar
    Reply cindy January 3, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    My mom’s birthday is coming up and all she wanted was a big family dinner. I can’t argue with her there! This meatloaf is on the menu plan. I know she’s going to love it! Pure comfort food!

    • Loreto
      Reply Loreto January 3, 2020 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Cindy I think you are going to love this Polpettone. The mortadella inside just melts and adds such a wonderful moisture and flavor inside this meat. I love how the top crusts up and the flavor of the wine is perfect to mingle the totality of this plump tender morsel of pure deliciousness!
      Thank you so much for trying our recipe. We really appreciate it!
      Happy Cooking!

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