Soak the bread in warm milk, then squeeze it dry and reduce to crumbs. Mix together with the minced meat, chopped ham, egg, salt and chopped parsley. Add the grated Parmesan.<
Blend together thoroughly for a few minutes, then, with your hands slightly moistened, form into an oval shaped 'loaf': Be very careful not to leave any cracks or gaps, otherwise the loaf will open and fall apart during the cooking. Pour the oil into a large, earthenware dish with low sides and warm gently. Roll the meat loaf lightly in the flour and place in the dish. Brown evenly all over so that the surface forms a crispy crust. Add the chopped carrot, celery and onion, toss until golden and pour in half a glass of white wine. Leave to evaporate and add half a glass of water. It takes approximately half an hour for the loaf to cook, but it should be frequently checked to prevent it sticking to the pan.
Leave it to set for a few minutes and then cut into thick slices. Pour its own hot gravy over and serve with potato purèe. Add some sliced mushrooms to the sauce for a really special flavour.
To make rissoles instead, roll the mixture into small rounds and fry them gently in oil until cooked; add a glass of white wine and let it evaporate. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve. This recipe was used by Apicius, Maestro Martino and Bartolomeo Sacchi, who wrote, "This dish is commonly known as mortadella...it is good for both the heart and liver". Domenico Romoli calls them tomaselle.
At the banquet to celebrate the christening of Cosimo I in 1519 a dish similar to meat loaf was served, though with the slightly more pompous title of "pie of veal minced like a loaf". Don't forget that meat loaf and rissoles can also be made from any left over boiled meat, diced very finely using a large chopping knife.