Polpettone with Onions


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Limoncello and Linen Water

Limoncello and Linen Water

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2012

  • About

This is Diana’s recipe. She is a wonderful and elegant nonna and cook. She asks for the mince to be passed twice through the mincer as she likes it fine for this. Even though there are eggs it’s quite delicate and you have to take care while turning it in the pan so it doesn’t break. If possible, use a large non-stick frying pan with fairly high sides so that you can put a lid over the hill of meat in the pan. Lovely with a dish of sliced tomatoes on the side.


  • 50 g ( oz) crustless country-style bread
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) milk
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) lean beef, finely minced (ground)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • a good grating of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) white wine
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) water
  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) red onions, sliced


Break up the bread, put in a bowl and soak in the milk to soften. Put the meat in another bowl and add the eggs, parmesan, nutmeg and parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze out the bread and add it to the bowl with the meat. Mix together, then knead very well. Put in the fridge for an hour or so.

Shape the mixture into a nice compact log that will just fit in your pan. Heat the oil in the pan and gently lower in the polpettone. Fry until golden underneath, then very carefully roll to turn it using an egg lift or similar in both hands. Fry until all the sides are golden and sealed, then lower the heat and simmer for half an hour or so. Add the wine and when most of it has evaporated add 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of the water. Cover and simmer until the meat is cooked through and clear juices seep out when you prick it and press with a skewer, another half hour or so. Carefully remove the polpettone to a serving platter to rest, drizzled with some of the pan juices to keep it moist.

Add the onions to the juices remaining in the pan, along with a little salt and pepper. Sauté until the onions are golden, soft and a bit sticky. Add the remaining 125 ml of water to loosen things up and continue to simmer. Keep hot. Cut the meat into slices about 1.5 cm (⅝ inch), gently supporting them with your hand as you go so they don’t collapse. Serve a couple of slices each, with a tablespoon or so of hot onions spooned over.