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Veal saltimbocca is an Italian dish that involves cooking flat pieces of veal with slices of prosciutto, sage and sometimes cheese. The leftover pieces of meat in the pan are turned into a pan sauce with white wine and chilled butter. A Roman-style version of veal saltimbocca has the pieces of veal rolled with a few additional spices and then cooked, creating small, compact cylinders of meat. The dish can be served with pasta such as spaghetti, polenta or baked potatoes.
Perhaps as one would expect, veal is one of the most important ingredients in veal saltimbocca. It needs to be very thin for it to cook all the way through without burning. Commonly called scaloppini when prepared in this way, veal cutlets are placed between two sheets of wax paper or in a plastic bag. With a heavy instrument that has a broad surface area, the meat is repeatedly hammered from the center to the edges to flatten out the piece so it is as uniform in thickness as possible.
To prepare the veal for cooking, a piece of very thinly cut prosciutto is placed on one side of the cutlet. Fresh sage leaves are then arranged down the center on top of the prosciutto. Toothpicks or a long skewer can be used to secure the sage and prosciutto so the cutlet can be moved and cooked without pieces falling off into the pan. If fresh sage is not available, then finely crushed dried sage can be used by rubbing it into the surface of the veal. The entire piece is then dredged lightly with regular flour, forming a thin coating on each side.
Each piece of veal is placed in a hot pan with olive oil in the bottom with the prosciutto side down first. After a few minutes of cooking, the cutlets are turned. Some veal saltimbocca recipes call for cheese such as fontina, mozzarella or provolone to then be placed on top of each piece and allowed to melt as the meat finishes cooking.
When the veal saltimbocca is done, it is removed from the pan. Using white wine, the bottom of the pan is deglazed so all of the small remaining bits of the veal are scraped up. The white wine is reduced, after which butter is slowly added until the sauce becomes thick and glossy.
Veal saltimbocca can be served on a plate with the pan sauce drizzled over top of it. Popular accompaniments include fresh pasta with a butter sage sauce, polenta garnished with parsley, or a tomato salad with fresh herbs. The Roman variation is made and served in a nearly identical way, except that any cheese is rolled inside the veal, and thyme is often added to the meat.
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