According to my vast and wonderful tome, La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy, published by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, Saltimbocca is typical of Rome, and the name means "leap into the mouth".

This is one of those dishes that can take me right back to a fairly specific point in my childhood in Sutton Coldfield in the 1970s, as my mother used to make this often for dinner parties, and whenever I think of it I get a rush of nostalgia, remembering cooking by my mother's side and getting to lick the bowl when she had made a rich chocolate mousse cake with boudoir fingers, which she called Sylvabella. I rarely make this dish myself, but the aforementioned tome on Italian food has reawakened my interest in what I regard as "retro" dishes from my childhood, but which are, in fact, traditional recipes from Italy.

Properly speaking, Saltimbocca should be made with veal escalopes, but these days people can be sensitive about veal (see my post on Osso Bucco), so turkey, chicken or pork can be easily substituted and the end result is no less delicious. I made this dish with turkey escalopes, and, remembering how my mum used to make it, added a slice of cheese on top of the ham. Naughty, but nice!

I am dedicating this post to Karen, a friend who is in hospital, and who told me in a recent text that she was really enjoying reading my blog. I have never cooked this for Karen, but I have a feeling it is a dish she would enjoy. Her lovely comments have inspired me to keep writing - and to keep cooking!

Veal Cutlets with Prosciutto and Sage

For 8
8 slices of veal, turkey, pork or chicken
8 slices Prosciutto crudo, or Parma ham or anything similar (e.g. Spanish Serrano ham)
8 sage leaves
8 slices Provolone or similar cheese (optional)
All-purpose flour for dusting
3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup dry white wine
Salt & pepper

Pound the meat slices into thin escalopes. Lay half a slice of ham and a sage leaf atop each slice and secure with a toothpick (if using cheese, secure this over the sage leaf). Dust each slice with flour. Melt the butter in a pan over a high heat and cook the veal, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Brown on both sides (don't do this if using cheese, but do check that the meat is cooked all the way through). Remove the meat slices from the pan and deglaze with white wine to create a sauce. Pour over the Saltimbocca. Serve hot.

I served this with lightly steamed spinach and boiled new potatoes, but it would also work well with fluffy polenta or mash, or pasta.


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