This is no ordinary meatball. From the mix of fresh herbs to the
flavour infused by the pancetta and the gently simmering tomato,
this dish cries out for a glass of red and a chunk of crusty bread
to mop up all the extra sauce.
100 mlolive oil2onions, finely chopped4garlic cloves, finely chopped2 tsp eachfinely chopped marjoram and oregano leaves1 tspfinely chopped sage leaves500 gm eachminced veal and pork2eggs, lightly beaten35 gm(½ cup) fresh fine breadcrumbs from a crusty white loaf40 gm(½ cup) finely grated parmesan, plus extra to serve16(300gm) wide, thin, flat pancetta slices2fresh bay leaves 750 ml(3 cups) passata250 mlred wine100 gmunsalted butter, coarsely chopped
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan over low-medium heat, add half the onion and half the garlic and sauté until soft and translucent (8-10 minutes), stir through herbs, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Combine minced meats, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan, onion mixture and 2 tsp each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Divide into eight pieces, roll into balls, wrap each with overlapping pancetta slices, refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large flameproof casserole, add polpettone and turn occasionally until brown (5 minutes), then remove from casserole and set aside. Add remaining onion and garlic to casserole and sauté over low-medium heat until soft (7-8 minutes), stir in bay leaves, passata and red wine. Add polpettone, cover and simmer until firm when pressed (10 minutes), remove lid and simmer until sauce is reduced by half (8-10 minutes).
Transfer polpettone to a plate with a slotted spoon, cover loosely with foil and keep warm. Increase heat to high and cook sauce until thick (5-10 minutes), then stir in butter until combined.
Spoon tomato sauce over polpettone, scatter with parmesan and serve immediately.