This meatloaf is an old school recipe, said to have been served in the Medici courts.
When I look for recipes, I have several old school books I compare the different versions. He has both the raw meat meatloaf and the one with leftover boiled beef. I find usually his recipes are for an upper class.
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Minced veal young tender beef instead of old stew meat quality was enriched with minced prosciutto, parmigiano, bread soaked in milk and eggs. The sauce was a simple soffritto of carrot, onion and celery, then splashed with wine and dried porcini mushrooms added to the sauce.
Simple seasonings, salt, pepper and nutmeg, noce moscato , very common in Italian cooking. Italians also rarely use their ovens, but cook on the stovetop. This is typical.
Famous Italian Cookbooks
In the older kitchens, there were no ovens. You would simply cover a pot and slow cook. Today, ovens are electric and electricity is more expensive than gas, which the stovetop has, so it is still traditional to make certain recipes on top of the stove. The vegetable soffritto is sauteed until golden, then the meatloaf is browned on one side and left to get crispy.
Then carefully flip to let brown on the otherside and splash with wine, broth or water.
Cover and let cook until done. If the liquid evaportates, add a glass of water with a tablespoon of water, dissolved inside.
How Italians eat: appetizers and pasta
Stir to mix well with the vegetables, this creates the gravy. The prosciutto mixed with the ground meat makes this recipe really rich.
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There are other simple recipes, adding ground sausage to the meat, for more fat and flavor. The Italian ground meat tends to be very lean, hence the added fatty meats.
I kept this version kind of simple, and partially pureed the sauce to make a gravy to serve with the meatloaf. The carrots turn it lightly orange. I used white wine.
Pizza, pasta and red sauce: Italian or American?, an article from History in Focus
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