Veal Scallopini with Artichokes and Balsamic Vinegar
This is a great recipe for a romantic Valentine's dinner tonight. Easy to prepare, with lots of texture, flavor, and great ingredients. If you are not a veal eater, you can substitute boneless chicken breasts, but be sure to get them thin enough.
I saw a version of this recipe on the Internet but wanted to see how my friend Chef Ricco would make it better, so I sent him the original recipe and asked him to explain how he would prepare it. He basically changed the whole cooking procedure, added thyme because it works so well with veal, and added a few other tips.
The recipe also calls for aged balsamic vinegar. This is the traditional balsamic vinegar made in Modena, Italy. It is very expensive and is used in small quantities.
If you can't find the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, substitute a Non-Traditional Balsamic vinegar, but remember the quality of this ingredient will change the finished flavor of the sauce.
What Does It Mean To Scallopini?
To "scallopini" (or "scallop" or "scalloped") in cooking refers to a method of preparing and cooking meat, typically poultry or veal, by thinly slicing it, dredging the slices in flour, and then sautéing them quickly. The term is often associated with dishes that involve thinly sliced and quickly cooked meat with a flavorful sauce.
Scallopini dishes are popular in Italian cuisine, and variations may include ingredients like lemon, capers, mushrooms, or herbs to add complexity to the flavor. Chicken piccata is a classic example of a dish that follows the scallopini method, featuring thinly sliced and sautéed chicken served with a lemon and caper sauce.
Veal cutlets, veal scallopini, or veal paillards are thin slices of meat cut from a young calf, usually from the leg or loin. Veal is the meat of young cattle, and it is known for its tender texture and mild flavor. Veal cutlets are often used in various dishes and are popular for quick-cooking preparations.
Button mushrooms, scientifically known as Agaricus bisporus, are among the most common and widely consumed globally. They are small to medium-sized mushrooms with a distinctive rounded cap and a short stem. These mushrooms have a mild flavor and a firm texture, making them versatile for various culinary applications.
Olive oil is an edible oil extracted from olives, the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea). It is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and is widely used worldwide for its rich flavor and various health benefits. Olive oil has been a key component of human diets for thousands of years. There are several types of olive oil, and their characteristics depend on factors such as the quality of olives used, the region of production, and the extraction process.
Shallots are a type of onion belonging to the Allium family, including garlic, onions, and leeks. They have a milder and sweeter flavor than regular onions, making them a popular choice in various culinary dishes. Shallots are characterized by their small size, elongated shape, and thin, coppery-brown papery skin.
Fresh thyme refers to the leaves and stems of the thyme herb (Thymus vulgaris) that are used in culinary applications. Thyme is an aromatic herb with small leaves and a woody stem, and it belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae). Fresh thyme is appreciated for its fragrant and earthy flavor, which can add depth to a variety of dishes.
Artichokes (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) are a type of thistle plant cultivated for its edible flower buds and fleshy bases, known as hearts. Native to the Mediterranean region, artichokes are now grown in various parts of the world with suitable climates. The vegetable is prized for its unique flavor and tender texture, and it is commonly used in culinary applications.
White wine is a type of wine that is made from the fermentation of green or yellowish grapes, with the juice separated from the grape skins and seeds before fermentation. The color of white wine ranges from almost clear to a light golden yellow. The flavor profile of white wine can vary widely depending on the grape variety used, the winemaking process, and other factors.
Balsamic vinegar is a dark, flavorful vinegar that originates from Italy. It is made from the concentrated juice, or "must," of Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The must is aged through a slow and meticulous process, resulting in a rich, complex vinegar with a sweet and tangy flavor. Authentic traditional balsamic vinegar is produced in specific regions of Italy, such as Modena and Reggio Emilia, and it undergoes a lengthy aging process, often for a minimum of 12 years and up to several decades.
Butter is a dairy product made from the fat and protein components of milk or cream. It is produced by churning or agitating the cream, causing the fat globules to separate from the liquid, known as buttermilk. The remaining solid fat is then further processed and may be salted or left unsalted, depending on the desired end product.
Veal Scallopini with Artichokes and Balsamic Vinegar
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- salt & pepper to taste
- 6 oz veal cutlets thinly sliced and pounded
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup button mushrooms
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme finely chopped
- 1 cup whole artichokes in water, well drained
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar the older the better
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
Prep the Ingredients
- Pound the veal cutlets to ¼ inch thickness. I use a meat pounder but you can use a small sauté pan to do the job.
- Even if you do a good job draining the artichokes, carefully place them whole in the palm of your hand and give them a gentle squeeze to remove any extra water. We don't want any water diluting the flavor of this dish. When done, cut the artichokes into quarters.If the mushrooms need cleaning, just wipe them with a damp paper towel. Mushrooms are like sponges and if you wash them under the tap, they will absorb a lot of water that we will end up having to cook off.If the button mushrooms are small, you can just cut them in half but if they are large, I would slice them up.
- Finely chop the shallots
How to Prepare at Home
- Add the flour to a shallow soup bowl or baking pan and season it with salt and pepper. Dip each piece of veal cutlet into the flour being sure to remove any excess flour by hitting two pieces together or taping each piece with a fork, whatever works for you.Important - If the veal cutlets turn out soggy or lumpy, it's most likely because there is too much flour on them. We want a very light coating.
- Heat the oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the veal pieces. If you don't have one that big, work in batches. You never want to crowd the pan or have pieces touching or they won't sauté properly and instead of browning, they will steam. Not good for texture or flavor.
- When the oil is hot but not smoking, sauté the veal cutlets for about 2 minutes per side. When brown, remove and reserve to a plate. We are going to add the veal back to the pan in the end so don't worry about keeping them warm.
Making a Pan Sauce for the Veal
- Carefully add the wine to the pan to deglaze. I like to remove the pan from the heat to avoid flaming up.
- Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, chopped shallots, artichokes and fresh thyme.
- After the wine cooks down to an essence, that is until it is almost all gone, add the balsamic vinegar. Just before the balsamic vinegar comes to a boil, add the veal back to the pan and then whisk in the cold butter pieces one at a time. (Mount)To mount butter is a technique where small pieces of cold, unsalted butter are whisked into a sauce just before serving. The butter is what gives pan sauces that velvety texture, extra flavor, sheen and those extra but worthwhile calories.
- Divide the veal pieces between two warmed plates and top with sauce and serve with your favorite side dishes.
Some of My Favorite Veal Recipes
- How to Make An Extraordinary Veal Francaise Recipe
- Veal Marsala Perfected
- How to Make Classic Italian Veal Saltimbocca
- Pan Roasted Veal Chops Recipe
- How to Prepare A Tasty Veal Osso Buco Recipe
- Veal Madeira with Artichoke Hearts Recipe
- Veal Stew with Mushrooms Recipe
- How to Make Delicious Osso Buco With Beef Shanks