Saltimbocca, meaning veal that “jumps in the mouth” because it is so tasty you can’t wait to eat it, was invented in the city of Rome and is one of its most characteristic dishes. Outside Italy, this simple recipe is too often overwrought. The dish needs only tender milk-fed veal, authentic air-cured prosciutto, fresh sage, and good butter. It is critical not to overcook the veal.–Julia della Croce
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Place a piece of waxed paper on a cutting board and place a slice of veal on it. Cover the meat with another piece of waxed paper. Using the blunt side of a meat mallet, pound lightly on both sides to flatten and tenderize, being sure not to break the meat. To pound the reverse side, just flip the meat over, sandwiched between the sheets of waxed paper. Flatten all the slices very thinly in this fashion, replacing the waxed paper when necessary.
Cut each slice into a piece no bigger than roughly 3 by 4 inches and discard the trimmed bits. You should have 12 thin scalloppine.
Place a leaf of sage on each slice, then add a slice of prosciutto the same size as the veal. Secure with a toothpick in the same fashion as you would place a straight pin in fabric to mark it.
In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with half the olive oil over medium heat. Add half the veal, increase heat to high, and saute until lightly golden on the bottom, 2 or 3 minutes. Season the meat with salt and pepper as it sautes. Turn the slices quickly to brown the other side for 2 minutes. Transfer the veal to a warmed dish. Add 2 more tablespoons of the butter and the remaining olive oil to the skillet and repeat to cook the remaining veal. When all the meat has cooked, add the remaining tablespoon butter and the water to the pan and stir. As soon as the butter melts, take it off the heat and pour it over the veal. Serve hot.
Saltimbocca Recipe © 2004 Julia della Croce. Photo © 2004 Paolo Destefanis. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.