This classic Italian dish Saltimbocca alla Romana translates as ‘jump in the mouth’. When you learn how to make a dish like this and master the accompanying pan sauce you will replicate it time and time again. This classic Roman dish is quick (it takes around 20 minutes in total) but is so impressive.
Traditionally it is made with veal scaloppini/escalopes, sage, prosciutto and Marsala, however I know many people prefer to substitute chicken, pork or turkey and I most-often make it with chicken. If you’d like to replicate this at home with rose veal, the technique will be the same. Ask your butcher to cut your meat into thin slices, explain what it is for, or do it yourself at home.
By playing with the various elements you will be able to make a whole range of delicious quick meals with scrummy sauces. I use Marsala but you can use wine instead. And you could use basil in place of sage. My Mum sometimes makes this with a little Gruyere under the prosciutto too. I have made this with white fish or salmon as well.
I keep my sage leaves in the freezer so I always have some to hand when I want to make this dish. Handily they can be used from frozen.
Serve it with courgette (zucchini) noodles, crusty bread, pasta, roast or mashed potatoes to mop up the delicious pan juices. I usually serve this with a rocket (arugula) salad and these rosemary wedges.
Active prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes
Saltimbocca alla Romana ingredients (serves 4)
Your choice of meat:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half through the middle (one breast serves 2 people) or
2 pork boneless chops (cut in half through to make two thin steaks) or
4 veal scaloppini/escalope (depending on the size of the pieces you may want more)
4-8 slices of Parma ham or prosciutto
a teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons flour – plain (all purpose) or spelt
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
8 fresh sage leaves
around half a glass of dry Marsala
1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon cut into wedges to serve
- If using chicken breast, create two thin pieces by cutting it in half lengthways, place the chicken on a board then put your hand on top and carefully use a sharp knife to cut through, parallel to your hand and the board. Place the meat between two pieces of cling film (glad wrap) or, save waste by using the paper the meat came wrapped in from the butcher. Bash lightly with a rolling pin until half a cm thick
- Remove the wrap or paper and grind pepper and salt over the surface of the meat. Then lay 1-2 sage leaves on top of each piece of meat, equally spaced
- Lay a slice of prosciutto on top of the sage on the meat then tuck the ham under each side, flip over. You can secure it with cocktail sticks but I don’t every time.
- Put flour in a small plate and dip the ham-wrapped meat into it so that both sides are covered lightly. Shake off excess flour and set the meat aside until you are ready to cook. This can be done up to a day ahead of time if need be.
- When you are ready to cook, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil starts quivering, add the meat, sage side down and fry for 5 minutes on each side, don’t move it – only flip it once the first side has been cooking for a few minutes and the meat is opaque all the way up the side and a little around the edge at the top. Don’t fiddle – you need to give it chance to develop a lovely golden crust.
- Transfer the cooked saltimbocca to a warm plate then throw the Marsala into the frying pan, use a spatula to deglaze and scrape up any crusty bits. Bubble for around 2 minutes then stir through the butter to thicken and add richness to the sauce. Taste the sauce and add salt or pepper as needed, perhaps a final splash of Marsala too. If you want a creamier sauce you can use a tablespoon or two of crème fraîche in place of the butter.
- Serve the meat with the pan juices poured over – or use the pan juices as a sauce for pasta, greens or courgette noodles (stir the noodles through the sauce in the pan before plating up). Always, always finish with a squeeze of lemon.
Leftovers are delicious chopped into pasta or on a sandwich or salad.