Quick, easy recipe for veal Saltimbocca with Parma ham and sage, the Italian classic, served as spirals. Made in just 25 minutes. Also delicious made with chicken fillets and sun-dried tomatoes.
Italian Saltimbocca with Veal or Chicken
A few years back, Antoine gave me a clever Christmas present: an Italian cookery course 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 slices of 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 (meaning “jumps in the mouth”) is an Italian classic but so easy to rustle up at the last minute.
How do you Tenderise Veal for Saltimbocca?
I learned this part not from the class but from my local French butcher (boucher).
First, ask your butcher to cut veal escalopes into thin slices and explain it’s for stuffing. That way, there shouldn’t be any holes in it, just thin enough whole slices and one escalope per person.
There is no need to soak the veal in milk or marinade the meat. Instead, the secret is in tenderising each escalope and the way you cook it.
So, with the help of a meat tenderiser hammer (I got mine cheap from Ikea), flatten out each escalope as much as you possibly can.
What is a French ‘Caresse du Boucher’?
This way of using a tenderiser hammer is what the butcher uses. However, read on and you’ll discover why I do this at home at the last minute. Our French butcher calls this une caresse du boucher (a butcher’s hug).
Although be careful how you ask for this at the French boucherie. With a long queue of serious French customers looking on (and many listening in) I thought I was being clever by asking for the thinnest possible veal escalopes they could give me. Avec une caresse, s’il vous plaît. Imagine the joy the butchers had with this one! Try it in any French butcher’s shop and it’s sure to get a giggle to two.
So, in order not to be asked for a caresse each time at the butcher, I bought my own cheap meat hammer and since then have done it myself.
How to Cook Veal Saltimbocca Spirals
Place a slice of dried Parma ham and a couple of sage leaves on each escalope then roll them up, securing each with a toothpick.
The second secret of ensuring that the veal is tender is to cook it initially on a medium heat in olive oil and butter (with a little more sage), then immediately lower the temperature. Cover and cook until they’re cooked through then remove the toothpick and slice into 4 or 5 slices each to see the beautiful veal, ham and sage spirals.
Serve immediately with the remaining sage buttery juices (add crème fraîche if you like it creamy) and toss the sauce in some pasta and extra crispy sage leaves.
Alternatively, serve with sweet potato and sage gnocchi or a potato gratin savoyard.
Saltimbocca Veal, Ham and Sage Spirals – Recipe
Saltimbocca Veal (or Chicken) Spirals
- 4 @100g veal (or chicken) escalopes
- 4 Parma ham slices cut very thin (or 4 sun-dried tomatoes)
- 8 sage leaves
- 25 g (2 tbsp) butter (unsalted)
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 250 ml (1/3 bottle) white wine
- 4 tbsp crème fraîche
- Spread out each veal escalope on a chopping board. Using a meat tenderiser, hammer each escalope until they're the thinnest possible.Place a slice of Parma ham (or sun-dried tomato) 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 on a medium heat in the butter and olive oil with the sage. Brown briefly on all sides. Glaze the pan with the wine (or Marsala if you want something a bit more fruity and gutsy) then turn down the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Finish off by adding the crème frâiche.
- Remove the escalope rolls and with a good sharp knife, slice each escalope into 4-5 slices. Boil up the sauce to reduce slightly and serve with pasta or gnocchi.