Aberdeen's Ciao Napoli's head chef Peppe Lepre gives us his delicious recipe for polpettone al ragu - an Italian style meatloaf

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As the cold nights begin to creep in, and the leaves start to part from the trees, the thought of Autumnal recipes and filling dishes are enough to make our mouths water. Traditionally, Autumnal recipes are thought of as being a little on the stodgy side, however, independent family-run Italian restaurant, Ciao Napoli, has created its very own version of a ‘traditional’ meatloaf, bringing a taste of Italian zing to the filling, yet light dish. Established in 2003, Ciao Napoli is one of Aberdeen’s only traditional Italian restaurants run by brothers Peppe and Nino Lepre, which focuses on Neapolitan cuisine, served up with a generous helping of flavour and tradition. Head chef and owner Peppe Lepre, said: “Autumn is the perfect time for people to start preparing for the return of their favourite winter warmers. Meatloaf is a fantastic dish which you can get really creative with, and can be cooked in a number of ways making it a top contender on the Autumnal menu at Ciao Napoli. “Meatloaf is traditionally a dish consisting of ground meat mixed with a number of other ingredients, and the meat the dish mainly consists of can be anything from beef, lamb, pork, venison or veal. You can even get experimental in the kitchen and use poultry or seafood too. “The Italian style of a meatloaf is called polpettone, and can be filled with anything from eggs, cheese or ham. I would recommend using mozzarella and mortadella ham cooked in a ragu sauce, the ragu sauce really finishes the dish off beautifully and brings a whole new exotic flavour to it.” Peppe Lepre advises on how to cook your very own polpettone below:

Ingredients

  • 500g of lean minced beef
  • 100g of pork mince
  • 200g of dry bread
  • 250g of mozzarella
  • 8 slices of mordadella (or cooked ham)
  • 1 egg
  • 200g of grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 bottle of Passata x 800g of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 75g of basil
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven at 180 C

2. Soak the dry bread in milk until soft.

3. In a pan add the extra virgin olive oil, the chopped onion, and the garlic. Cook for a few minutes.

4. Next, add the tomatoes, the basil, and salt and pepper to season the dish. Cook for 10 minutes on a low heat, ensuring that the mixture doesn’t stick, then put to one side.

5. Drain the bread of excess milk and mix together thoroughly with the pork mince the beef mince. Add the salt and pepper to season then add the parmesan cheese and the egg.

6. Take a good handful of the mixture and shape into an oval in the palm of your hand. Make an indent in the centre and put the mozzarella, mortadella/cooked ham inside and then mould the rest of the mixture around it. Continue this process until the mixture is used up aiming to get evenly sized meat loaves.

7. Place the tomato sauce in a tray and place the pollpetone in. Cover with tinfoil and place in a pre-heated oven at 180 C for 25-30 minutes depending if it is an electric or fan oven.

Best served with:

Mixed salad with seasonal vegetables, potatoes or pasta.

• Ciao Napoli is open through Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner, and is based a minute’s walk from Union Street, the city’s main road. To find out more about Ciao Napoli please visit: www.ciaonapoli.co.uk or call 01224 213223.

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