I hardly ever eat veal, much less cook with it, but something about the recipe in this month's Saveur had me rushing to the butcher. The simplicity and richness of the dish was immensely appealing. Saltimbocca alla Romana is, as you might guess from the name, a classic Roman dish; the name means "jump in the mouth," which it did into mine, quickly. Its preparation takes only a few minutes, and the result is exceedingly elegant.
While I had my butcher flatten out the veal cutlets for me, it's easy to do at home with two sheets of plastic wrap and a pounding utensil (you can even use the bottom of a heavy skillet, like cast iron). Next, thin slices of prosciutto are pressed against the thin veal cutlets so that they gently adhere, and leaves of sage are pinned to the meat with toothpicks. The whole constructed sheet of meat is dredged very lightly in a little flour before sautéeing, which gives it a wonderful crust and later thickens the pan sauce, made from marsala and a little chicken stock. Just remember that you don't really need to salt anything—the prosciutto brings plenty to the party, as will the chicken stock.
- 8 2-ounce veal cutlets, pounded gently to 1/8 inch thickness
- 16 thin slices of prosciutto (about 1/2 pound)
- 16 sage leaves
- 1⁄2 cup flour
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup dry marsala
- 1 cup chicken stock
Lightly pepper the veal cutlets to taste, then lay 2 slices prosciutto on one side of each cutlet so that it covers the surface of the meat. Press gently to adhere. Using a toothpick, pin 2 sage leaves to each cutlet on top of the prosciutto. Dredge each piece in the flour, shaking off any excess.
Prepare all your other ingredients, as well as a plate lined with paper towels. In as many batches as necessary to avoid crowing the pan, fry each piece in half oil and half butter about 1 minute per side, totaling 4 tablespoons of each for all the cutlets. Don't add all the fat at once; use as needed. Keep the cooked cutlets on the towel-lined plate.
Once all the meat is cooked, drain any remaining fat or oil and deglaze the pan with the marsala, scraping up brown bits. Reduce by half, then add the stock and reduce by half again (total reducing time about 5 minutes). Stir in the remaining butter (4 tablespoons).
Return the meat to the pan and cook until everything is hot and the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove the toothpicks before serving.