Turkey Polpettone with Radicchio Salad

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

These highly seasoned turkey burgers have a surprise inside: an oozing nugget of mozzarella. In Italy, polpettone are large meatballs, and you could certainly shape these into balls and simmer them in Marinara Sauce. Instead, I make them in a burger shape and serve them with radicchio in one of my favorite boiled dressings. While you’re at it, triple the dressing so you’ll have some for the fridge. It will keep for several days.


Cooking Methodpan-frying


Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Texturecrisp, herby, meaty, tangy


  • 1 small head radicchio, quartered through the core, cored, and sliced crosswise into thin ribbons
  • 1 bunch watercress, thick stems removed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ½ cup soft fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 cold egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1½ teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • ½ cup Wondra flour seasoned with salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup soft fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, halved and cored but not peeled


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Make the salad: Soak, drain, and dry the radicchio according to the directions in Radicchio Slaw with Warm Honey Dressing. In a large bowl, combine the radicchio and watercress. Combine the lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper to taste in a small skillet. Cook over moderate heat, whisking until the honey dissolves. Remove from the heat and whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Let cool to room temperature.

  3. Make the polpettone: Put the turkey in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients except for the mozzarella and work them in gently by hand. Divide the turkey into 8 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a round patty. Top 4 of the patties with mozzarella and then with a second patty. Press the edges together.

  4. Make the coating: Put the seasoned flour and the bread crumbs on separate sheets of waxed paper. Crack the egg into a shallow bowl and beat lightly.

  5. Coat the patties lightly with the flour, then dip in the beaten egg, and finally in the bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs gently into place.

  6. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over moderate heat. Add olive oil to a depth of 1/8 inch. When the oil is hot, add the 4 patties. Cook on one side until nicely browned, about 1½ minutes, then turn and cook on the second side until browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to the oven and cook until done throughout, about 10 minutes.

  7. While the polpettone bake, slice the apple crosswise into paper-thin slices. Add to the radicchio and watercress. Toss with enough dressing to moisten, which should leave you some dressing for garnish.

  8. To serve, divide the salad among 4 plates. Put 1 “meatball” on each plate, leaning it against the mound of salad. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the polpettone. Serve immediately.


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