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Traditionally made with veal in combination with prosciutto and fresh sage leaves, Saltimbocca is a dish that you just want to keep eating because it tastes so good.
Also made with chicken or pork, and sometimes with a slice of Italian Fontina cheese and even topped with capers, this classic Italian fare is relatively easy to make at home. Whether using pork, veal or chicken, just pound the meat until you end up with thin, about 1/8-inch thick, pieces. Then, just top each slice with a couple strips of prosciutto or thinly sliced ham, and sage. It can then be either sautéed flat or rolled up.
One of my favorite ways of preparing this dish is by using a thick pork chop, sliced to create a pocket, and then stuffed with chopped sage, prosciutto and Fontina cheese. The chops, browned in a pan and then finished off in the oven, are served with a buttery lemon sauce poured over them and accompanied with wilted spinach and a bacon dressing.
Classic Veal Saltimbocca
2 cloves garlic
1 lb. veal top round
4 Tbsps. butter
3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
Cut the veal into thin slices and flatten with a wooden mallet. Mash together garlic cloves with salt and pepper to taste (keep in mind that the prosciutto is also salty) to form a paste.
Spread some of the paste on the veal slices and arrange 3 to 4 sage leaves on top of each cutlet. Cover each slice with 2 thin slices of prosciutto. Roll them up and close with a toothpick lengthwise.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Lightly dust the rollups with flour and sauté over medium heat for a 3 to 4 minutes, turning once. Transfer the cooked saltimbocca to a platter and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.
Pour off any excess oil from the skillet; add Marsala wine to deglaze the skillet, scraping up any brown bits. Add butter and cook until the liquid has thickened. Pull off the toothpicks from the rollups and drizzle the sauce over them. Serve with linguini with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Pork Chops Saltimbocca with Wilted Spinach and Bacon Dressing
2 (1-inch thick) center-cut rib pork chops
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
2 very thin slices Italian Fontina cheese
4 thin slices prosciutto (2 oz.)
2 Tbsps. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 (10-oz.) bag fresh spinach, stems discarded
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
4 oz. sliced button mushrooms
1 jar prepared bacon dressing
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in the middle. Cut a deep, wide pocket in each pork chop. Sprinkle half of sage into each pocket and stuff pockets with cheese and prosciutto. Pat chops dry and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chops until undersides are golden, about 2 minutes, then turn chops over and transfer skillet to oven. Roast until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
While chops cook, mix spinach, onions and mushrooms in a large bowl. Heat about one-half cup of bacon dressing and pour over spinach. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer chops to a platter. Add butter and lemon juice to hot skillet, stirring and scraping up brown bits, then pour sauce over pork. Serve with wilted spinach and bacon dressing. Makes 2 servings.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and ground pepper
4 fresh whole sage leaves, plus 4 minced leaves
4 (6-8 oz. each) chicken cutlets
4 slices (3 oz.) thinly sliced prosciutto
4 Tsps. olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. cold butter
In a shallow bowl, stir together flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside. Lay one sage leaf lengthwise on each cutlet, and then wrap a prosciutto slice around middle of each cutlet, encasing sage. Flatten with the palm of your hand to help prosciutto adhere to the chicken. Dredge cutlets in seasoned flour; tap off excess.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Cook 2 cutlets until golden-brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove cutlets and keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and 2 cutlets.
Add wine and broth to skillet; cook over high heat until reduced by three-quarters, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool one minute. Add butter and minced sage; stir until butter is melted, about 30 seconds. Spoon sauce over cutlets. Serve with linguini with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Makes 4 servings.
Baked Veal Chops with Marsala Sauce
Seared veal chops are baked in the oven covered with a rich, flavorful Marsala sauce with mushrooms and green onions.
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsps. olive oil
3 to 4 green onions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pkg. (6 oz.) thinly sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsps. flour
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1-1/2 cups beef broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 veal chops, 3/4 to 1-inch thick
In a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and butter. Once heated, add mushrooms and sauté until just tender. Add sliced green onions and garlic and sauté another minute or two. Add flour and cook, stirring, about another minute, or until flour is well incorporated into the mixture.
Add beef broth and Marsala; cook until thickened and slightly reduced. Add a little freshly grated pepper; taste and add salt, if necessary.
Season veal chops on both sides with salt and pepper or seasoning blend. Using a cast-iron skillet, sear the veal chops for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Pour Marsala sauce over the chops and place into a 375-degree oven. Bake for about 15 minutes. If not using an oven-proof skillet, place chops in a baking dish, instead. Serve with your favorite pasta and tossed salad. Makes 4 servings.
Norm Harding is a cooking columnist for the Beacon. To send him recipes, email him at email@example.com.