Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Saltimbocca (Italian veal chop with sage and Parma ham)
We had this classic Italian dish a fortnight or so ago on our patio. The sun was still high up, late in the evening. There was a warm summer breeze. The grasshoppers were exceptionally noisy that night - one could have easily mistaken them for cicadas. The warmth, the food, the sounds - all made us feel like we're somewhere very nice and very far away :)
This famous Italian dish, Saltimbocca, originates in Rome and translates as "jump in the mouth/leap in the mouth". There are many chicken and turkey saltimbocca recipes in cookbooks and Internet, but the original version is always made with veal. I used fresh sage from my own garden, and garnished the dish with some picture-perfect fresh woodland sage (Salvia nemorosa) from our flowerbed.
(Itaalia vasikalõigud salvei ja singiga)
4 veal cutlets or escalopes (about 150 g each)
4 thin slices of Prosciutto
4 to 8 fresh sage leaves
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil and butter for frying
about 250 ml (1 cup) dry (Italian) white wine
Place veal slices between two pieces of clingfilm and roll or pat until about 4-5 mm thick. (This is not necessary if your meat pieces are thin already). Remove the clingfilm, season generously with black pepper.
Place 1-2 sage leaves on top of each meat piece. Top with a slice of Parma ham, and secure it with a toothpick (I do it out of a habit, but Cooks Illustrated suggests you can forget the toothpick, as searing the cutlets Prosciutto-side down first helps the ham stick).
Heat about a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan/skillet over medium-high heat.
Place the cutlets to the frying pan, ham-side down. Fry until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn over and cook on the other side until light golden brown.
Pour the wine onto the pan and cook until reduced by half. Season.
Serve with potato mash or creamy polenta.
TIP OF THE DAY: If you've run out of white wine, you can use a mix of dry sherry or Marsala and water. Works just as well :)