A few years back, Antoine gave me a clever Christmas present: a course in Italian cooking in Paris. It was a great idea for ALL of us in the end, wasn’t it? One of the class dishes prepared was saltimbocca, but instead of using the traditional veal they used thin chicken breasts and stuffed them with sun-dried tomatoes and basil leaves.
I’d made Saltimbocca before but I learned a neat trick: instead of serving them as one long sausage type roll, simply cut them up into dainty slices and you see the beautiful spirals: it’s a no brainer. 🙂 Saltimbocca (literally “jumps in the mouth”) is a real classic but so easy to rustle up at the last minute for unexpected guests.
I learned this part not from the class but from my local butcher: to tenderise the veal, hammer the living daylights out of it. The French romantically call this, “une caresse du boucher“. Imagine the scene chez le boucher in Le Vésinet, a posh suburb just up the road from us. With a long queue of serious French customers looking on (and listening carefully, of course) I asked for the thinnest possible veal escalopes they could give me, along with a caresse, please. I thought I was being clever but it was a blond moment. I didn’t go back there for a while since they’d ask me each time for une caresse. So the best way was just to buy a cheap meat hammer from Ikea and do it yourself!
For 4 people
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
4 veal escalopes @ 100g
4 slices Parma ham
8 sage leaves
25cl white wine (or Marsala)
4 tbsps crème fraîche
- Spread out each veal escalope on a chopping board and thump the living daylights out of it so that it will be beautifully tender.
- Place a slice of Parma ham on top of each escalope, add a sage leaf and season.
- Roll up each escalope and hold it together with a toothpick. Chop up the rest of the sage leaves into thin strips.
- Fry the escalopes gently in a mixture of butter and olive oil plus the sage on all sides for about 15 minutes. Glaze the pan with the wine (or Marsala if you want something a bit more fruity and gutsy) and finish off by adding the crème frâiche.
- Remove the escalope rolls and with a good sharp knife, slice each escalope into small slices.