Pancetta Wrapped Polpettone In Red Wine Tomato Sauce

This gently simmered, bacon wrapped meat dish is sort of a cross between meatloaf and meatballs, but whatever you want to call it, it’s a delicious idea for cooler fall days. I think of both meatballs and meatloaf as comfort food, and this version is no exception. What could be better than a big juicy meatball wrapped in pancetta (or bacon), and slowly simmered until moist and tender?

You can use any combination of beef, veal, and pork you prefer, but in my polpettone shown, I used half beef and half sausage meat. I often use an equal combination of ground pork, beef, and veal which creates a delicous and tender meatball.

These large meatballs are cooked in a red wine and tomato sauce that is full of flavor, so make sure you offer lots of crusty Italian bread at the table to mop of the delicious sauce. You need the extra thin type of pancetta or bacon for this recipe, and do use fresh and not dried herbs where listed, as it really does make a difference.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Pancetta Wrapped Polpettone

Pancetta Wrapped Polpettone

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Individual meatloaves are wrapped in pancetta and gently simmered in a tasty red wine flavored tomato sauce.


  • 1/4 Cup Olive OIl
  • 1 Large Onion, Peeled & Finely Diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Each, Finely Chopped Parsley, And Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Finely Chopped Sage
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Pounds Ground Meat (Beef, Veal, Pork Combination Of Choice)
  • 1 Large Egg, Lightly Beaten
  • 1 1/2 Slices Bread
  • 1/3 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 8 Thin Slices Of Pancetta or Bacon


  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Full Bodied Red Wine
  • 2 Cups Pureed Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil

To Serve:

  • Crusty Italian Bread
  • Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese


  1. Heat a couple of teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet and cook half of the onions until they are soft and translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Remove the onion to a bowl, and stir in the parsley, sage, and basil.
  3. Tear the bread into pieces and place in a bowl with the milk, and squeeze with your fingertips until the bread has soaked up the milk.
  4. In a bowl mix the meat, eggs, grated cheese, milk soaked bread, onion mixture, and season well with salt and pepper and work with your fingers until completely smooth.
  5. Divide the meat into four equal parts, and roll into balls.
  6. Wrap each ball with two slices each of the pancetta or bacon overlapping the ends.
  7. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy flameproof casserole, and then carefully brown the polpettone on all sides, then remove to a platter.
  8. Add the remaining onion to the skillet, and cook until soft and translucent.
  9. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant.
  10. Add the red wine, and cook until reduced by half.
  11. Next add the pureed tomatoes, dried oregano and chopped basil leaves and bring to a boil.
  12. Season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to a simmer, then return the polpettone to the pan.
  13. Cover with a lid, and cook the polpettone, turning occasionally, until fully cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. If sauce requires thickening, first remove the polpettone to a platter and cover to keep warm, and cook the sauce for a few minutes over medium high heat until thickened.
  15. Serve one polpettone per bowl, spooning some of the sauce over each.
  16. Sprinkle with grated pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

Did you make this recipe?

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