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Veal parmigiana is a dish that is made in a style of cooking that originated in Southern Italy. It consists of a slice of veal that has been sliced or pounded until thin and fried in a pan, after which it is coated in tomato sauce and cheese and baked in an oven until done. A more popular version of veal parmigiana outside Italy involves coating the veal in flour or flour and breadcrumbs before it is fried to help create a crispier coating. The completed dish can be served by itself, with a small pile of pasta, or made into a sandwich on a roll or Italian bread.
The veal must first be made thin, if one is to make veal parmigiana. If the cut is not thin enough, then it can first be cut through the center on the thin edge, but not all the way through, so the cutlet opens like a book. The meat is then placed between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper and pounded gently with a heavy, blunt object so it becomes a single consistent thickness all the way through. It is important to pound from the center of the meat out toward the edges to avoid tearing the meat into pieces.
Although the original veal parmigiana recipes did not involve breading the meat, a majority of popular modern versions do. Simply dusting the veal lightly with flour on both sides is the simplest way to help develop a crust. A full coating, however, requires dipping the veal into flour and then into a liquid such as egg, milk or water before putting the wet meat into a mixture of bread crumbs. The bread crumbs can be flavored with Italian herbs or have some Parmesan or Romano cheese mixed in.
The cutlets for the veal parmigiana are placed in a pan with hot oil and allowed to brown on each side. The objective is not necessarily to cook the meat all the way through, but rather to brown the exterior and form a crust. Some healthier recipes place the veal on a baking sheet and then bake it in a hot oven, relying on dry heat to crisp the outside.
The final step in making veal parmigiana is to place the veal into an oven-safe dish and coat it with tomato sauce. The exact type and amount vary according to taste. Cheese is placed on top of the tomato sauce, especially over top of the cutlets. Mozzarella is seen very often, although any other type that will melt can be used. The dish is placed into an oven and cooked until the veal is finished cooking, the sauce is hot and the cheese has melted.
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