Saltimbocca–a contraction of “salta in bocca”–is as delightful name as I’ve ever heard given a dish. It translates literally as “jump in your mouth”–a reference to how good it’s supposed to be. This is a simple veal dish, a classic of Italian cooking. You can knock people out with it, and spend less than fifteen minutes cooking it. Wait until you can find some fresh sage leaves, though. That shouldn’t be too hard, markets being what they are these days. Using dry Marsala wine (Florio is the big name in that) to make the sauce brings in some of the flavor of veal Marsala. But you can also use dry white or a light red wine. The most important datum in this recipe is that the veal must be sliced and pounded very, very thin.
- 8 large, thin scallops of white veal, about 2 oz. each, pounded
- White pepper
- 8 thin slices of prosciutto (domestic is okay, Italian is better)
- 8 large leaves of fresh sage, washed
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry Marsala (or white or light red wine)
- 2 1/2 Tbs. butter
1. After pounding out the veal, dust (don’t dredge) with pinches of flour and season with salt and pepper. Place a slice of prosciutto along one side of each of the veal slices, and top with a sage leaf. Fold the veal over to cover the prosciutto and sage (not necessarily completely) and pound along the edge to seal. (You can use a toothpick to hold this pocket together if necessary.)
2. Heat the olive oil until it shimmers and is fragrant in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the veal about 20 seconds on each side and remove, doing four at a time.
3. Add the Marsala to the pan and bring to a boil, while dissolving off the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the liquid to about one-half the original amount, then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the butter in small pieces to give a creamy look to the sauce. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
4. Return the veal to the pan just long enough to coat with the sauce, and serve immediately. This is great with a bitter green vegetable (broccoli di rape, or just plain broccoli) or wild rice.