Veal that wants to jump in your mouth – Saltimbocca alla romana

One of favourite son’s favourite dishes is Saltimbocca alla romana — which is not difficult to make but does entail a bit of step-1, step-2 and fiddle-de-dee.  I wouldn’t recommend making this recipe for more than six people at any one go, for instance.  For two reasons, one being that you shouldn’t dredge the veal in flour until minutes before cooking it, and the second that … it’s nice eaten ‘hot’.  And if you are going to be cooking large amounts, and thus perforce in batches, there is no way you’ll be able to bring the saltimbocca to the table hot.

Ingredients: for an average serving, think two thin slices of veal per person, and 50g of parma ham (prosciutto) per person.  Also required will be 1 leaf of fresh sage per slice and 1 toothpick to fasten it to the meat.  Plenty of butter to cook the meat in, and 1 glass of white wine.

IMG_5536 Here is the butter.  You could use clarified butter and I have done on occasion.  I have come to the conclusion that real butter is preferable … and that is because it ‘browns’.  We do want the slices of meat to brown a little.IMG_5537 Lay the slices of veal on a plate or wooden board.  Place a slice of parma ham on top of each.  And a sage leaf in the middle.  If you look closely in the photo, there is one slice of meat without a sage leaf — and that is because favourite son doesn’t like the taste of sage.  So his saltimbocca goes without.

IMG_5538 Get a toothpick and fasten the sage leaf to the slices of parma ham and veal. This is the end of Step 1.

IMG_5539 IMG_5540 Step 2 is all about dredging the saltimbocca in flour, on both sides, and then dusting off the excess.  Repeat: do this only minutes before you are about to cook the saltimbocca.  If you do it earlier, the damp from the meat will exude to the flour and make it go all sticky and ‘orrible … and basically ruin the effect you are after.IMG_5541 IMG_5542 End of Step 2.  The salmtibocca are ready to be cooked.

IMG_5549Wait for the butter to melt before cooking.  The heat must be just right: not too high or the meat will burn, not too low or the meat will ‘boil’.  Start with the heat quite high.  Cook the meat on ‘bottom’ side first, i.e. not on the side with the parma ham and sage leaf.  It doesn’t have to cook for long.  I would say about 2-3 minutes.

IMG_5550 Turn the saltimbocca onto the other side — and again, cook for very little, about 2 minutes. When the first batch of saltimbocca are cooked, set them aside on a large serving plate.  They will need a final touch, right at the very end.IMG_5551 The butter gets soaked up and by the time you get to the last batch, you might find that it has practically disappeared — and you might even have to add a little more.

IMG_5552 Here are all the slices, on the serving plate, waiting for the final touch.IMG_5553 Step 3.  The little bits of brown you see in the saucepan … are nuggets of taste, brought on but the flour and butter and meat juices.IMG_5554 Pour a glass of wine into the saucepan, and use a wooden spoon to dislodge those nuggets of taste, so that they mix in beautifully with the wine.  I used red wine this time but normally I use white — and I must say I prefer it.  So, stick to white.   Cook the wine until the alcohol evaporates …

IMG_5555 And pour it over the saltimbocca.  Notice I haven’t mentioned salt and pepper.  That’s because the parma ham is quite salty … and so it’s best that people sprinkle salt and pepper according to taste, once it’s on the table.IMG_5556 On the table …IMG_5557A close-up.

Saltimbocca alla romana is a classic — duh! — Roman dish.  And we all love it, not just favourite son.

About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
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13 Responses to Veal that wants to jump in your mouth – Saltimbocca alla romana

  1. Interesting how one could do so many things differently in such a relatively simple recipe 🙂
    I am sure your saltimbocca are wonderful, too, or perhaps even better than mine?
    Here are the differences:
    – I do not use flour
    – I cook the side with the prosciutto first (to give some prosciutto flavor to the other side as well)
    – I put the sage under the prosciutto, and thus do not require the use of toothpicks
    – I do season with salt and pepper on the side without prosciutto
    – I cook them very briefly over high heat and put them in the oven (at 80C or so) to finish cooking and keep them warm while I deglaze the pan with white wine
    I like the idea of using flour, I will try that next time I make these. You are absolutely right that it should be added at the last possible moment.
    We absolutely love saltimbocca, thanks for sharing!

  2. sybaritica says:

    I’ve only had this once. It was in a restaurant and wasn’t that great. Yours looks much better. I think I may give it a try at home!

  3. Have never had this. And I never see veal for sale here. Maybe it’s just a local thing. The best calves liver used to be served in a pub in Mayfair, years ago. So melt-in-the-mouth.

  4. Francesca says:

    Ah saltimbocca! I haven’t eaten or cooked them in ages. The color of the veal and the prosciutto is just perfect. I bet they taste wonderfully, Jo!

  5. Darya says:

    I love this dish! I once made if for my parents when I was spending my holidays at their house and they love it! Haven’t made it in such a long time though… thanks for reminding me about it!

  6. Yum! What great pictures!

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