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Rifreddo, galantina, stuffed chicken and capon are classic dishes of Bolognese cuisine.

They represent one of the happiest expressions of local home cooking.
The Bolognese table is welcoming in flavor and appealing to the eye.
And recipes, even if rich in character and ingredients, never recall food porn.
On the contrary, the local gastronomic culture doesn’t lack a certain sober and smug elegance.

The recipe for mortadella and veal rifreddo is a happy dish to make, taste, and share.
It is a kind of compound meatloaf that, especially at one time, was served cold as a middle dish (piatto di mezzo), that is, between the first and the main course.

Easy to make, it requires a few simple steps that you will find explained in the recipe text (read it all before you get to work), it has a long cooking time on the stove, and it must necessarily rest overnight in the refrigerator.
It is not enough to have made it in the morning for the evening. It needs a long rest, or it will crumble when cut. And even the flavor will not be what it has to have.

The veal rifreddo was a dish that Grandma Sara also made, with mortadella and prosciutto di Parma too.
But I have chose to share my mother-in-law’s version, another extraordinary home cook, and the memory of a meal that definitely sealed the meeting between my family and that of my husband.


Italian home recipes

The Italian family and the table

The Italian family celebrates events at the table. Consider the engagement, for example. It is the union of two families sanctioned by the menu, and getting it wrong can be dangerous.

When in doubt, my husband and I proposed celebrating the first family meeting at the starred restaurant San Domenico in Imola. And everything went well. The meal ended with a sort of faint sigh of one who has eaten well and in good company, and I understood that that barely hinted afflatus sealed the union of two families. Over the years, there has never been the need to settle a problem.

The second meeting took place after the wedding. However, that meal at home was a little agitating for me.
I listened to my mother-in-law list the courses on the menu and followed her in preparing the dishes.
They were dishes that required some work, which I watched her execute with the precision and calm that are her hallmarks in life and the kitchen. All that work was worth more than the welcoming committee.

That was the menu.

There was baked pasta topped with plenty of meat sauce and almost a whole wheel of Parmigiano grated and sprinkled between heaven and earth as rice on the way out of the Church.

After a perfect baked pasta, I didn’t think anything could arouse my mouth watering so soon until the mortadella-scented veal rifreddo appeared.

The birth of this new family rests on a rock-solid foundation of 500 grams of veal rump, 350 grams of mortadella, eight chicken eggs of the kind that eat well, and grated Parmesan cheese abundantly.

Each new family is like a rifreddo. The second is a sequence of layers of veal-egg-veal-mortadella. The first one one takes shape from alternating layers of memories e flavors.

For the rifreddo to be successful, you have to dress the mold with the mortadella so that it sticks out from the sides. The abundance of mortadella encloses and protects the filling. In the same way, the silent presence of the relatives supports a new family in the early part of its life.

The secret? There isn’t one, says my mother-in-law. Observing her, I think that there is a trick.
The mortadella never touches the eggs and always has to be between two layers of veal.

The rifreddo cooks slowly, three and a half hours in a bain-marie on the stove. After all, every happy family is born from slow cooking.

The family is a metaphysical place where haste does not exist. The same is true for the warmed veal rifreddo, which must be tipped out of its mold and rest overnight, preferably with some weight on it. In that way, it loses all that liquid that has kept it soft but is no longer needed.

Serve the veal rifreddo cut into thin slices, warm or cold.
It is a perfect dish for a family event and turns it into a memorable day.
You know I don’t remember the dessert?

Buona cucina, Monica

Dishes for a Bolognese menu

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Mortadella and veal rifreddo (meatloaf)

Mortadella and veal rifreddo (meatloaf)

Veal rifreddo is a traditional recipe from the Bolognese cooking school. It looks like a compound meatloaf. You can serve it cut in slices, warm or cold
Course Main Course
Cuisine Bolognese
Keyword italian recipes, Meatloaf, Mortadella Bologna, Rifreddo, Veal
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 loaf mold 26x10 cm
  • 1 mold large enough to accommodate the one with the rifreddo and water of the bain-marie
  • baking paper


  • 350 g of finely sliced mortadella Bologna
  • 500 g of veal rump machine-cut by the butcher, carpaccio type
  • 8 eggs
  • salt to taste
  • 100 g of grated Parmigiano reggiano


  • Line a rectangular loaf-type mold with wet and squeezed baking paper.
  • Cover the bottom and edges with slices of mortadella so that they stick out of the mold.
  • Lay the first layer of veal slices on the bottom covered by mortadella.
  • In a dish, beat two eggs with a pinch of salt and pour them over the rump, then sprinkle with Parmesan, top with another layer of veal, and press gently with your fingers.
  • Cover the veal with a thin layer of mortadella Bologna.
  • Now add another layer of rump, then two more eggs beaten with salt, more Parmesan, and a layer of veal. Again, press down gently with your fingers, and add mortadella before starting again with veal-eggs-Parmigiano. Continue until you end the ingredients.
  • The last layer should be veal.
  • Fold the surplus of mortadella on the last layer of veal. Then, seal the mold with aluminum foil.
  • Place the mold in a pan large enough to hold it comfortably and fill it with hot water reaching almost to the edge of the mold.
  • Place it on a small stove and cooking a bain-marie and low flame for about 3 1/2 hours. When needed, add hot water that has to be close to the edge of the mold during all the cooking.
  • When the cooking ends, remove the mold from the water bath and the aluminum foil and let it cool to room temperature. Keep the larger pan on hand.
  • Cover the pan where you placed the mold of the rifreddo during baking with aluminum foil. When the rifreddo is warm, turn it upside-down, still covered with the baking paper from the baking, in the larger pan.
  • Gently press down on the rifreddo several times with your fingers. It has to lose cooking water without losing its shape.
  • If you can, place a weight on the rifreddo for a few hours. Then cover it and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator before cutting it into thin slices.
  • You can serve it cold or warm to your liking. Cold with mayonnaise and coleslaw; warm with sides of peas, cabbage, or artichokes.
  • Warm the sliced rifreddo by covering the baking dish with aluminum foil.
  • You can store in the refrigerator for two days and in the freezer for 10.

Food tip

  • The eggs should always have to bebetween two layers of veal, and they never directly touch the Bologna.

Mortadella and veal rifreddo (meatloaf)

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