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Veal Scallops with Prosciutto and Sage (Saltimbocca alla Romana)

Saltimbocca means “jump in the mouth,” so the dish can safely be presumed to be particularly tasty. Elsewhere in Italy, saltimbocca can mean other recipes, but qualified by alla romana, it refers to thin-sliced veal, prosciutto and fresh sage, a staple herb of the Roman garden. Some recipes call for folding the layered ingredients in half, while others shape them into neat little involtini (rolls). But the standard procedure, given here, is to secure the sage to the stacked veal and prosciutto with a toothpick.

Ingredients:

  • 12 veal scallops, about 1 lb. total, each about 1/4 inch thick
  • 12 very thin prosciutto slices, about 1/4 lb. total
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Directions:

Using a meat pounder, pound the veal slices to flatten them somewhat; they do not need to be paper-thin. Trim the prosciutto slices so they are slightly shorter than the veal slices. Lay a slice of prosciutto on top of each slice of veal and then top with a sage leaf. Secure the layers together with a toothpick.

Spread the flour in a shallow dish. In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Dust the veal bundles very lightly and evenly with the flour, shaking off the excess. Working in batches, place the veal, prosciutto side down, in the melted butter and brown gently, about 1 minute. Turn the veal over and brown the other side, about 1 minute. Season with pepper and, if the prosciutto is not very salty, season with salt as well. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the veal is cooked through and is a light golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Transfer the veal to a warmed platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. When all the veal bundles have been cooked and removed from the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, add the wine and bring to a boil. Deglaze the pan, allowing most of the liquid to evaporate and scraping up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Pour the hot pan sauce over the veal and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Rome, by Maureen B. Fant (Oxmoor House, 2005).