What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Restaurant Quality Veal Marsala?
Years ago I asked my friend Chef Ricco Deluca how to make the very best veal Marsala and he shared with me his recipe. You can see this recipe at The Very Best Veal Marsala Recipe.
What I want to do here is to start looking at this recipe in more detail. When I asked Ricco for his recipe, I was much more novice than I am today and had lots of questions. I wanted to know not just what he did in his recipe but why he did it. I also like to know what products he used and why they mattered.
Veal Marsala Recipe Ingredients
There are not many ingredients in the Very Best Veal Marsala Recipe but what you use can make a difference in the final product. So here are the ingredients in Ricco’s recipe and why he likes to use them.
What is the best cut of veal for this recipe?
You want the thin, lean, boneless cutlet or scaloppini that comes from different muscles in the leg.
Butter – Salted or Unsalted?
Best to use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt. You can and will adjust the seasonings at the end but it’s easier to add salt and impossible to take remove it if over salted.
Clarified butter would work great with this dish, but unless you have some in your refrigerator, it takes extra time and effort to make.
What type of oil?
Use a combination 90% canola oil blended with 10% olive oil. Chef Ricco explained that many professional chefs use a blend of oil because the canola oil has a higher smoking point while the olive oil adds flavor.
Besides, as much as I love the taste of olive oil, you don’t want its flavor to overpower the flavor of the meat and Marsala.
Why use both oil and butter?
I like using a combination of butter and oil because the butter adds flavor while the oil, with it’s higher smoking point, allows you to cook at a higher temperature. Heat is your friend when sautéing so the combination gives you the best of both cooking fats.
Why coat the cutlets with flour?
Although Ricco likes the flavor of veal Marsala better without flour, he suggests using it for the following reasons:
- After tenderizing the meat, it will bleed and the flour will help seal it in.
- Unless you are going to serve the veal immediately from the pan to the plate and eat it right away, the flour crust will hold in some of the juices and therefore flavor.
- The flour will hold more of the sauce to the veal.
- Some people enjoy the “mouth feel” associated with a crust created by the flour.
What is seasoned flour?
If you take some flour and add salt and pepper to it, you have seasoned flour. Chef Ricco likes to make up a batch of seasoned flour and store it in a container in his pantry. This way whenever he needs to coat something for sautéing, he always has some on hand.
To make a batch for yourself, combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon of salt & 1 teaspoon of pepper.
You can experiment with different seasonings to come up with your own special blend but don’t get to carried away or you will have a pantry filled with too many containers of flour.
What is demi-glace?
Demi glace is a brown sauce reduction that is essential in making classic sauce. A simple way to describe demi-glace is to say it is a rich brown sauce that has been reduced to a thick gelatinous consistency.
Culinary students spend a lot of time in cooking school learning how to make stocks, stock reductions, and glaces like demi-glace. Professional chefs will often have a large pot of veal and beef bones simmering day and night to make the stuff. You can find a good recipe for making it at home at demi glace.
What is Marsala?
Marsala is a fortified wine that is imported from Sicily and can be used for cooking or drinking. You will find it at your local liquor store in both dry and sweet flavors. I prefer to cook with the dry flavored wine. Marsala has a dark amber color with a distinctive smoky flavor.
You don’t have to buy the most expensive bottle of Marsala but stay away from the cheapest. You especially want to stay clear of the fake Marsala cooking wine that you find in supermarkets. It’s not worth the bottle they put it in.
What you don’t cook with, you may want to use as an aperitif, a light alcoholic drink that is often served before dining to stimulate the appetite.
What is a shallot?
Shallots are members of the onion family. They are much smaller than traditional looking onions and have a paper-thin brown skin that covers a purple-tinged white flesh. They have a combination onion – garlic flavor but milder than either one.
You can find them at most supermarkets these days usually next to the garlic. You want to look for well-shaped heads that are not sprouting. You will find them in various sizes so buy according to what your recipe calls for.
What is white pepper?
White pepper comes from the same dried berry as black pepper, the Poper nigrum, but when producing white pepper, the berry is allowed to fully ripen so the outer skin shrinks and is then removed. The remaining grayish white kernel has a milder flavor than black pepper.
It is typically used in lighter colored dishes where you don’t want the color of black pepper to contrast with the sauce. You see white pepper used a lot in cream sauces.
Next time I’ll look at the best cooking equipment to use for making this dish so please come back to learn more about this incredible recipe.
photo credit: Ralph Daily