Polpettone di Pollo

Chicken Loaf

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

This is not exactly a meat loaf. It more closely resembles a giant chicken burger, but served chilled. Some recipes add ground veal to the chicken or use turkey instead of chicken. Another variation stuffs the mixture into a turkey-neck skin. In La cucina nella tradizione ebraica, there’s a version that adds hard-boiled eggs and chopped pistachios to the ground chicken mixture, stuffs it into a boned chicken, and poaches it as if it were a galantine. In yet another version, a turkey is deboned and stuffed in the same manner. These are a lot more work and obviously for festive holidays. Here is my simple everyday version, based on a recipe from Donatella Limentani Pavoncello’s book. She doesn’t have pistachios in her version, but they really add wonderful texture and another dimension of flavor to what is a rather bland dish. Be sure to test the mixture for seasoning by poaching a little meatball in broth or water. Leftover polpettone makes a great sandwich, with a little lemony mayonnaise and lettuce.

Read more


  • 1 pound ground chicken breast meat
  • ½ to ¾ cup fresh bread crumbs, or as needed to bind
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon white or black pepper, preferably freshly ground
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts
  • Olive oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine or Marsala wine
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and chopped
  • About 6 cups chicken broth or water, heated
  • Mayonnaise flavored with lemon zest and capers or herbs


In a large bowl, combine the chicken, bread crumbs, eggs, salt, pepper, cinnamon or nutmeg, and the pistachios. Mix gently but thoroughly. Pinch off a small nugget and poach in simmering water or (or broth) to test the seasoning. Adjust the seasoning and form the mixture into a long loaf. Pour enough olive oil into a large nonstick sauté pan to form a film on the bottom and warm over medium-high heat. Add the chicken loaf and brown on all sides, shaking the pan from time to time to prevent sticking. When the chicken is colored on all sides, pour in the wine, and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits on the pan bottom. Add the carrots and the broth or water to cover. Bring to a simmer, cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until all the liquids are absorbed and the chicken is tender, glazed, and golden, about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat, transfer to a platter, let cool, then cover and chill the loaf, about 2 hours. To serve, cut the chilled loaf into thin slices. Serve with mayonnaise.