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Veal Saltimbocca: A Delicious Italian Classic

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Veal Saltimbocca is a beloved dish from Italian cuisine renowned for its rich flavors and elegant presentation. Translating to “jump in the mouth” in Italian, Veal Saltimbocca lives up to its name with a combination of tender veal cutlets, savory prosciutto, aromatic sage, and a delightful pan sauce. Originating from Rome, this dish exemplifies the simplicity and sophistication of Italian cooking, making it a favorite in both homes and restaurants worldwide. Join us as we explore the history, ingredients, preparation, and cultural significance of Veal Saltimbocca, and learn how to prepare this classic dish step-by-step.

Origins and History

Veal Saltimbocca has its origins in Rome, where it emerged as a popular dish in traditional Roman cuisine. The name “Saltimbocca” reflects the dish’s ability to tantalize the taste buds and make flavors “jump in the mouth.” Traditionally made with veal cutlets, prosciutto, and fresh sage leaves, Veal Saltimbocca showcases the influence of Mediterranean flavors and culinary craftsmanship. Over time, variations of Saltimbocca have emerged, with some recipes incorporating different meats or additional ingredients. Despite these variations, the essence of Veal Saltimbocca remains rooted in its simple yet robust combination of flavors.

Ingredients

For Veal Saltimbocca:

  • 4 veal scaloppine (thinly sliced veal cutlets)
  • 8 slices prosciutto di Parma (thinly sliced)
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for finishing the sauce)

For Serving (optional):

  • Fresh sage leaves (for garnish)
  • Lemon wedges

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Veal Scaloppine:
    • Place each veal scaloppine between two sheets of plastic wrap. Gently pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin until thin (about 1/4 inch thick).
    • Season both sides of the veal with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Assemble the Saltimbocca:
    • Lay a slice of prosciutto on top of each veal scaloppine.
    • Place a fresh sage leaf on top of the prosciutto.
    • Secure the sage leaf with a toothpick or small skewer, ensuring it holds the prosciutto in place.
  3. Dredge and Cook:
    • Dredge each veal scaloppine in flour, shaking off any excess.
    • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.
    • Add the veal scaloppine, prosciutto-side down, to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the prosciutto is crisp and the veal is golden brown.
    • Flip the scaloppine and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a plate. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
  4. Prepare the Pan Sauce:
    • Deglaze the skillet with dry white wine (or chicken broth), scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
    • Add chicken broth and fresh lemon juice to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until the sauce reduces slightly.
    • Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter until melted and the sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve:
    • Place the Veal Saltimbocca on serving plates and spoon the pan sauce over the top.
    • Garnish with fresh sage leaves and serve immediately, accompanied by lemon wedges if desired.

Tips for Perfect Veal Saltimbocca

  • Choosing Veal: Use thinly sliced veal cutlets for tender and quick-cooking Saltimbocca.
  • Sage Leaves: Fresh sage leaves impart a distinct flavor to Saltimbocca. If fresh sage is not available, you can use dried sage, but adjust the amount accordingly.
  • Prosciutto: Use high-quality prosciutto di Parma or another thinly sliced cured ham for authentic flavor.

Cultural Significance

Veal Saltimbocca epitomizes the essence of Italian cuisine, combining quality ingredients with simple yet precise cooking techniques. In Italy, this dish is often enjoyed as a secondo (main course), served alongside vegetables or potatoes. Its popularity extends beyond Italy, embraced for its robust flavors and elegant presentation in restaurants around the world. Veal Saltimbocca symbolizes the culinary heritage and regional diversity of Italian cooking, inviting diners to savor the harmony of flavors and textures that define Mediterranean cuisine.

Conclusion

Veal Saltimbocca offers a taste of Italy’s rich culinary traditions and the artistry of combining flavors in a dish that delights the senses. With its tender veal, savory prosciutto, and aromatic sage, Veal Saltimbocca promises a memorable dining experience that celebrates the essence of Italian gastronomy. Prepare this classic dish at home to enjoy a taste of Italy’s culinary heritage and share in the joy of creating delicious meals that bring family and friends together. Whether served as a special occasion meal or a weeknight indulgence, Veal Saltimbocca invites you to savor the flavors and traditions that make Italian cuisine truly exceptional.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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