Friday, January 5, 2018

Saltimbocca alla Romana

Welcome to 2018!

I wound up having to take 2017 off from the AMFAS because I was just too darned busy with other things.

But now that’s changed!

I have a lot of things planned for the year, but wanted to kick things off with a wonderful meal whose wonderfulness is increased by also being very easy to make. It only requires the usual kitchen tools most cooks have, an eye to detail and timing and a bit of organization. The organizational part only comes in because you’ll probably want to serve some side dishes (or “contorni” in Italian) and you’ll need to make those ahead, because the final part of preparing saltimbocca will take up all your attention. I cook my contorni and then keep them warm in the over while I cook the veal and make the sauce, then plate everything. Or you could make the contorni way ahead and heat them up in the oven, on the stove or in a microwave. Either way, you need to get this dish onto the table fast!

Saltimbocca alla Romana
Serves 4

“Saltimbocca” means “leap into the mouth” and one taste will tell you why the Romans named this dish thusly. It is fantastic and not at all difficult to make. It’s also quick, so it’s an ideal dish to prepare for guests. You can prep it to a certain point (marked in the instructions) so you only have to go into the kitchen for the final cooking of it. Spend more time chatting with your guests, not out in the kitchen!

This dish is lovely served with roasted potatoes and sauteed swiss chard or spinach. Chianti goes well with it — at least we think so.

4            5-oz thinly-sliced veal scallopini
4 slices  thinly-sliced prosciutto
8-12       fresh sage leaves
              flour or cornstarch for dredging
2 Tbs     extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs     unsalted butter
1/4 cup  dry white wine
1/2 cup  chicken broth
              salt and black pepper to taste
              Lemon wedges

  1. Put the veal scallopini on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Lay a piece of prosciutto on each piece, then 2 or 3 leaves of sage (more if the leaves are small) on each piece of veal.  Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and then gently flatten the scallopini with a meat mallet or rolling pin until the pieces of veal are 1/4” thick and the prosciutto and sage leaves have somewhat adhered to the meat.
  2. Now weave a couple of toothpicks in and out through the prosciutto and sage leaves and into the veal to secure things together. Lightly pepper each piece of veal on the bottom side. Dredge the bottoms of the veal slices in flour or cornstarch and shake off the excess.
  3. For the sauce, we usually start out with a cup of chicken stock (just chicken is used in it) and 1/3 cup of our vegetable stock and boil them down to a half cup. This intensifies the flavours. Our stocks have little or no salt in them. If you’re using lo-sodium chicken stock just start with a third of a cup to keep the salt levels reasonable. You can prep the dish to this point and then do the rest at the last minute.
  4. To cook, first heat the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat bottom side down first for 2-3 minutes until the veal is nicely browned, then turn and cook the prosciutto/sage side for maybe 10 seconds (just to warm it up). Transfer to a serving platter, remove the toothpicks and keep the saltimbocca warm in the oven.
  5. Add the wine to the pan to deglaze it (you want to scrape up all those flavourful bits!) until the wine is nearly evaporated. Now add the broth to heat and thicken slightly. Just before serving, swirl the remaining tablespoon of butter into the sauce. You probably won’t need to add any salt because the prosciutto will bring enough salt to the dish, but check the sauce. You may want to add a tiny pinch.
  6. Pour the sauce over the saltimbocca, garnish with a few extra sage leaves (optional) and wedges of lemon. Serve immediately!

No comments: