The Foodie Files: Veal Saltimbocca

Ben Whelan

Whether it’s for family that you plan on visiting over the break or just as a reward for a first half of the semester well done, there is no spring break activity better than settling in and cooking a fantastic meal. You have the time, finally, to spend all day on a project that will warm your soul and be greatly appreciated by all of your starving artist friends who couldn’t afford to travel to some tropical locale. So this week, we’ll continue with the classic Italian theme that we started with last editions Tiramisu and dive into a delicious main course: Veal Saltimbocca.

Saltimbocca roughly translated from Italian means “Jumps in the mouth”, and with its deep rich flavors and salty kick provided by a hidden slice of prosciutto (a salty, cured Italian ham), this favorite is sure to do just that.

Veal Saltimbocca

4 veal cutlets

4 slices prosciutto; sliced paper thin

4 tspns sage; dried or fresh

2 tspns black pepper

3 cups white flour

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup dry white wine

12oz cremini mushrooms, sliced

For this preparation, we will be using veal, which is, yes, a baby moo-cow; I know, it seems barbaric, and it might be if it weren’t also so delicious. Because veal can be a little tough, it needs to be tenderized and flattened so that it will cook through quickly and the meat will become a little softer. The best way to do this is to lay your cutlets out between two pieces of wax paper and beat the hell out of them with a rolling pin or other heavy wooden implement until they are flattened to about three times the original size. Be careful not to go too crazy, because if you hit it too many times in the same place the meat will rip. It may take a little time to complete, but it is a great way to get all of your mid-semester angst out.

Once you’ve beat your meat, lay it out on wax or parchment paper and carefully lay one slice of prosciutto lengthwise on each flattened cutlet. Sprinkle your sage and pepper over each one and then carefully fold, kind of like a prosciutto-sage envelope, and seal the open end with a toothpick.

In a large non-stick skillet or sauté pan, melt 3 tablespoons of your butter over medium high heat. Once the butter has completely melted, pour your flour into a baking dish or sheet pan and carefully dredge each side of the folded veal cutlets in flour before laying them in the pan with the butter. Each cutlet should cook for now more than five minutes a side and will brown up beautifully. Remove to a drying rack and reduce the heat in your pan to medium-low.

To make the sauce, we will employ a technique known as “deglazing” a pan by taking your white wine and pouring it slowly into the pan, which will begin to sizzle and sputter. The wine will rip all of the delicious little brown morsels from the surface of the pan and with them the deep rich flavors of the sautéed butter and veal. The flour left in the pan from coating of the cutlets will help serve as a thickener making a wonderfully textured pan sauce. Not only does it pull in all of the flavors from the previous contents of the pan, but it will also save you time in the cleaning process by freeing some of the cooked-on bits. To finish, melt in your last tablespoon of butter and sauté your mushrooms until they become glossy and silky soft.

Serve over pasta, first placing the cutlet on top and then spooning the sauce and mushrooms over the top. Pair with a nice Tuscan wine and a simple contorni of asparagus sautéed in olive oil with a little grated parmigiano reggiano, and bellissima; fine Italian dining. Bon Appetito, and, as always, let me know how it goes.