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Veal scallopine, which may also be spelled scallopini, is a traditional Italian dish made with thin, 0.25-inch (0.63-cm) slices of meat that are then pounded with a mallet to approximately 0.125 inch (0.3175 cm). The veal used is generally taken from a muscle and is cut across the grain and trimmed of any fat. This means that this dish tends to be relatively low in calories. Using chicken or turkey breasts instead of veal can further reduce fat content.
This dish is fairly quick to prepare, since the thin slices of meat require very little cooking time. In the classic version, the meat is often dredged in flour with a few Italian herbs, salt and pepper, and then cooked on the stove top with a few cloves of chopped garlic for about six minutes. There are few traditional additions except for mushrooms, which are often cooked prior to cooking the meat. White wine is added to the pan once the meat is removed to make a light brown sauce.
The sheer variation of recipes for veal scallopine is quite remarkable. Suggested addition include crushed tomatoes, Greek or Italian olives, bell peppers, and wet ingredients like lemon juice or Marsala wine added to the sauce. When cooks use tomatoes, they are typically added after the meat is cooked, and the dish is allowed to simmer over a low heat for about half an hour.
Lemon juice makes the dish more similar to veal piccata, while Marsala wine is more traditional for a dish called veal Marsala. Either of these recipes may be served with rice or potatoes, and occasionally pasta. When the dish is made with tomatoes, it is almost always served on top of lightly buttered pasta or, at the very least, with pasta as a side dish.
The flouring process of the veal scallopine is quite important and should not be neglected, no matter which variant a cook intends to make. The flour helps brown the meat, but it also lends more texture to any sauce or gravy produced at the end. Without flour, the addition of canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes is likely to result in a watery sauce. In the wine deglazing process, collecting the flavorful bits that accumulate in the middle of the pan while cooking the meat is made easier when the meat is flour coated.
If making this dish for a large group, a chef can cook the meat in several batches and keep it warm on a low setting in an oven before combining any other ingredients before serving. It may be easier to use two pans, so two pans of the sauce that gives this dish its excellent flavor can be made.
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