Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Veal Saltimbocca

Sage is something I always have growing in pots out in the back yard, yet - for some reason - I don't often remember to use.  It's a fine looking herb which is imbued with many a mythical property (according to it is reputed to be "beneficial for circulation, digestion and memory," for example.).  The Ancient Greeks and Romans believed it imparted wisdom, hence an old but wise person is known as a sage. 

You'll need a mean mallet to tenderize the veal
Sage is central to the classic Roman dish -- Veal Saltimbocca. 

The name is its best description. 

Veal Saltimbocca translated means "jump in the mouth";

* "saltare" means "to jump",

* "im" = in and

* "bocca" is "the mouth".

A less literal and more colloquial translation would be "melts in the mouth" and that certainly describes this dish - in large part this is down to the vast quantities of butter used in frying the veal!

On my return from Rome this Summer, I searched for a recipe on the Food Network.  There were plenty of fancy-schmancy interpretations but none of them recalled the simple delightful lunch I had when in Rome. 

The simplest I could find is this Saltimbocca alla Romana

My version however omits the chicken broth and was given me by my Italian friend, Marica, now living in Philly, who is known for her superb Italian home cooking...

To feed four:
4 x veal cutlets
1/2 a stick of butter
Tbsp of olive oil
Thin cut proscuitto - 1 slice per cutlet
1 glass of dry white wine
Fresh sage
plenty of salt and pepper

To prepare:
1. Use the mallet to pummel your veal cutlet.  The cutlets will already be thinly sliced so don't overdo it or the cutlets may fall apart.  Pummeling does help tenderize the cutlet, however, and lends it that 'melt in your mouth" quality.
2. Wrap the veal cutlet in one slice of proscuitto and season generously with salt and pepper
3. Heat 3oz of the butter and the tablespoon of oil in a large frypan, bring to bubbling and place proscuitto wrapped cutlets in the pan, fry 2 mins, then turn.
4. Place 1-2 leaves of sage on top of cutlet, fry for 1 min and flip cutlet, fry for another 30 seconds or until you see that the sage has begun to brown.  (Keep a close eye on the cutlets, I tend to undercook rather than overcook as the cutlets will continue to cook through once served.)
5.  Add white wine to the pan and heat wine/butter sauce through.
6. Plate cutlets and sage
7. Turn up heat on the wine sauce and keep bubbling for a minute until the sauce reduces and thickens
8. Pour sauce over veal and garnish with lemon wedge.

Buon Appetito.

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