Veal Saltimbocca is a classic of Italian cuisine made with thin escalopes of veal, prosciutto de parma and fresh sage leaves. It is brilliant with braised greens and polenta, but is a dish I've hardly ever made.
For two reasons, really. First, there are a few members of my clan that really have a problem with eating veal, the thought of the milk-fed calves heading for slaughter being something they refuse to be a party to thank you very much. Second, veal can be incredibly expensive, especially when you're buying enough to feed a family of seven, five of whom are teen-aged eating machines.
So, rather than suffer the psychological and financial trauma associated with cooking the stuff, we make our Saltimbocca with chicken (though pork cutlets work beautifully too). I call this dish almost Saltimbocca because traditionally the dish does not include cheese as we do here, but we love the flavor it adds and the way it helps to adhere the prosciutto to the chicken.
And really….name me one thing that doesn't taste better with melted cheese oozing out of it. You can't can you?
If you're in a hurry, just spritz the cutlets with some fresh lemon juice upon serving, but for an easy and special treat, take the few minutes to make the pan sauce as we do. This has fast become Arthas' favorite meal, and was his birthday dinner a few weeks back along with his now famous Guinness Chocolate Birthday Cake. I do believe it's the taste of the dish that makes it his star, but perhaps it's the fact that when he helps me make it he gets to slam the whole delicious package with a meat mallet prior to cooking…so much fun.
Cheers – Steve
- 6 small to medium boneless-skinless chicken breast halves
- 12 slices of prosciutto
- 1 cup freshly grated fontina or gruyere cheese
- 18 large sage leaves
- 1 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon chunks
- olive oil
- lemon wedges for serving
- Lay a chicken breast in the center of a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter, sprinkle with about 1/6 of the cheese, then top with two slightly overlapping pieces of prosciutto. Fold part of the plastic wrap over to cover and pound with a meat mallet until the breast is about 1/2 inch thick. Pull back the plastic wrap and pin three sage leaves to the top of the breast using toothpicks. remove the breast to a baking sheet and repeat with the other five pieces of chicken.
- In a large, shallow bowl place the flour and season with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge each chicken package in the flour, coating both sides before shaking off any excess and returning it to the baking sheet.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add a few glugs of olive oil and a pat of butter. When the butter stops foaming add 2-3 of the chicken pieces (depending on their size and the size of your pan) prosciutto side down, making sure not to crowd them. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip them and cook them 2-3 minutes more until golden brown on both sides. Remove to a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm while you cook the rest of the chicken, adding more oil and butter as necessary.
- When all the chicken has been cooked, pour any excess oil out of the pan, then set it back over the heat. Add the wine and scrape any fond off the bottom of the pan. When the wine has mostly reduced, add the stock and boil till it thickens slightly, 2-3 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time until emulsified. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper or a spritz of lemon juice if you want.
- Serve with your favorite polenta or potato side, and veg of your choice passing the pan sauce at the table.