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Paillard di Vitello

The word “paillard” is French (“pie-YARD”) and was originally applied to a thin grilled steak. In Italy, the same idea is used to cook large, thin slices of veal. It happens very quickly (thirty seconds, maybe less) either on a grill or under a broiler. In either case the heat should be very high. The result is elementally delicious. The sauce is also unusual in being cooked less time than seems right. Trust me and Chef Andrea Apuzzo that it is indeed cooked just long enough. This is one of my favorite dishes from the cookbook we wrote togther in 1989, La Cucina Di Andrea’s. (Which, we’re proud to announce, is now being distributed by Pelican Publishing, the local book publisher.

When buying the veal, make sure it’s cut across the grain, not with it. It may be the best idea to slice it yourself.

Veal paillards.

Veal paillards.

  • 6 large slices veal leg, 4 oz. each, pounded thin
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. softened butter

Preheat a grill (indoor or outdoor) or a broiler as hot as you can get it.

1. Between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound the veal lightly to get it as thin as possible. Don’t let it break through.

2. Coat the veal slices lightly on both sides with some of the olive oil. Season with salt and set aside.

3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onion, crushed red pepper and garlic. Cook until the garlic is fragrant–about a minute.

4. Add the remaining ingredients except the butter and bring to a light boil. Hold at a light boil for ten seconds (only!), then remove from the stove. The sauce will seem too runny and unfinished, but that’s how you want it.

5. Whisk the butter into the sauce and set aside, but keep it warm.

6. Put the veal paillards on the preheated grill or broiler rack. When the veal has browned in spots–turn it over and cook the other side a little less than the first side. This will take less than a minute total–perhaps less than 30 seconds. Don’t overcook or the veal will be tough!

7. Place the veal on pre-warmed plates and spoon some of the sauce over it.

Serves four to eight.

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