Alternative Cooking Method To Traditional Veal Saltimbocca
Veal saltimbocca, which probably originated in Brescia, (a region of Lombardy in northern Italy), is a specialty in Roman cuisine. Quite simply, it is veal sautéed with prosciutto and sage in a butter/wine sauce.
In the traditional fabrication method two sage leaves are placed on a veal cutlet overlaid by a slice of prosciutto. A long wooden skewer is then threaded through to hold the veal and its toppings in place. This packet is then sautéed.
I have two problems with this method. First, skewers are always awkward. It's a somewhat tedious procedure to ensure they are threaded properly. The skewer must adequately penetrate each ingredient to hold it in place and in such a manner that the entire packet lays flat so it cooks uniformly.
My second issue is that sage is not dispersed evenly. The cutlets are obviously larger than two leaves of sage. This results in a gastronomic mood swing. Some mouthfuls will be devoid of the herb while others will be inundated.
My solution is to first chop the sage leaves. I stick with the basic formula of two leaves per piece of veal.
Pound the cutlets thoroughly so they are nice and thin. Season them with salt and pepper. Easy on the salt since the prosciutto is salty. Sprinkle the sage evenly on the cutlets. Top with the prosciutto, fold the cutlet in half, and then pound it again.
Deliver some extra whacks to the folded edge so it will not be inordinately thicker than the rest. This second pounding also seals the perimeter of the folded cutlet, holding everything in place.
Remember when pounding meat to always use the smooth side of the mallet, and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap. This inhibits tearing of the meat and prevents the jettisoning of errant projectiles all over your kitchen.
Veal Saltimbocca Recipe
- To chiffonade the sage, tightly roll the leaves horizontally into a cigar shape. Then slice it end to end to produce little ribbons.
- Pound the veal cutlets to thin them out and season with salt and pepper.
- Evenly distribute the sage over the cutlets and then top each with a slice of prosciutto.
- Fold the cutlets in half and pound them again to a uniform thickness.
- Melt half the butter in a large skillet. Place the veal packets in the pan, brown the first side, flip and repeat. Remove the veal and reserve.
- Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the browned bits off the bottom.
- Add the remaining butter.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Return the veal to the pan and very briefly cook it on each side just to coat it with the sauce and serve.