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The Skinny on Scallopine

“A little goes a long way”…or so the old adage goes. I think of perfume, cayenne pepper and certainly a kind word. In cooking, this notion can often make or break a recipe. A few drops of vanilla extract make the entire difference between an aromatic, flavorful cake and a bland bunch of crumbs. But the same concept holds true with choices that impact the texture and mouth-feel of a dish. A little too much thickener and your gravy is a gloppy pudding (…yuck!).

No better example illustrates this than scallopine. Also referred to as “scallopini,” this Italian dish consists of thinly sliced or thinly pounded meat that is dredged in flour, given a quick pan-fry, then heated and served with an accompanying pan sauce (often a tomato or wine sauce; or piccata, a lemon-caper sauce). The thickness of the meat is integral to the integrity of the dish; with a maximum ¼-inch thickness, the texture is deliciously tender, allowing one to savor many dimensions of flavor in a delicate way, flavors often overlooked when eating a thick cut of meat.

Dredging the meat in flour prior to pan-frying also greatly affects the consistency of the sauce. That little bit of flour adds thickness and richness to the sauce, giving it an almost silky feel. Additionally, flouring makes deglazing the pan (scraping up the browned bits) a bit easier when the wine is added. Again, the difference between a smooth, creamy dressing and a runny, lumpy goo.

Scallopine is most often prepared with veal, but can also be made with turkey or chicken, trimmed of all fat and sliced or pounded thin. For this reason, scallopine is a great choice as a lean, low-fat meat entrée. And because of the thinness of the slices, it requires a very short cooking time…great for a weeknight supper (I love win-win recipes!).

Try the following version, in the Northern Italian style, served over sautéed spinach (or chard) or over pasta. Use a mallet to pound the veal thin or try Park East Kosher’s extra thin veal cutlets – ready to use!

Veal Scallopine with Cremini and Tomatoes

Serves 2-4

4 thin veal cutlets (“Italian style”), pounded thin (¼” thickness)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup flour
¼ cup olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup dry white wine (like Chardonnay)
¼ cup low-sodium chicken stock
8 oz. Cremini mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Chopped parsley, for garnish

Lay cutlets out on a flat surface and season with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish and dredge cutlets in flour. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat. Place cutlets in the pan and brown on each side until light golden-brown in color, about 1 minute per side (you may need to do this in batches). Transfer cutlets to a plate and set aside.

Add shallots and garlic to the pan and sauté until shallots are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add wine, stock, mushrooms, oregano, and more salt and pepper to taste. Stir mixture, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for another 3 minutes, until mushrooms begin to wilt and mixture is slightly reduced. Add cherry tomatoes and continue to simmer for another 2-3 minutes, until tomatoes begin to soften. Return veal to pan, spooning pan sauce over the cutlets. Bring back to a boil and simmer for about 4-5 minutes or until sauce is thickened, adjusting heat if necessary. Remove from heat. Plate each serving of veal scallopine over sautéed spinach or your choice of pasta. Spoon sauce over the top and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

 

 

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