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Scaloppine is an Italian dish that has become quite popular throughout American cuisine, especially in restaurants that serve Italian food. It consists of a piece of meat that is sliced thin and pounded nearly flat, then dredged in flour and fried in a small amount of butter in a pan. This is combined with mushrooms and a sauce consisting mostly of wine and seasoned bay leaves, and thickened with heavy cream. Scaloppine can be served as an individual dish or accompanied with a small portion of pasta as well.
Sometimes spelled “scallopine,” “scallopini,” and “scaloppini,” the dish is typically prepared and served the same regardless of spelling or pronunciation. Scaloppine begins with a piece of meat that has been sliced fairly thin. The most common meats used are chicken and veal, though beef or other poultry could also be used. This thin slice of meat is then pounded to be thinner. An even thinness throughout the entire piece of meat is important to ensure proper cooking.
Pounding meat flat in preparation for making scaloppine is typically done by placing the meat between two sheets of wax paper or plastic food wrap. This allows the hammer or other item being used to move across the meat without tearing it. While the meat is being pounded flat, some sliced mushrooms are typically allowed to brown in a pan with melted butter, and then put aside.
The thinly pounded meat is then dredged in a little flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Excess flour is shaken off of the meat, since the idea is to have a light coating of flour and not a heavy crust as may be preferable in fried chicken. A sauce is then prepared using white wine and seasonings, with heavy cream added when hot to thicken the sauce.
Once the sauce has come to the proper thickness, the cooked meat and mushrooms can be added, or each element can be plated separately. Cooked pasta can also be served with the dish, typically placing a small pile of pasta on the plate, then the meat and mushrooms, and topping it all with some of the sauce. This type of scaloppine is popular throughout the US and other regions that serve Italian cuisine, both for its warm, rich flavor and its relative simplicity.