Saltimbocca (the name means ‘jump in the mouth’) is an Italian classic that traditionally consists of veal paired with prosciutto and fresh sage leaves, and served, most commonly, with a reduction sauce of the pan juices and Marsala wine. It is sometimes served as a main course but appears more often as an appetizer and there are, of course, different variations. Chicken is quite often used in place of veal and, today, I will be using very lean pork as, not only is good veal almost impossible to obtain up here, pork makes a very delicious substitute.
It has been years since I last made this dish and the last time I hate it was at a restaurant in Montreal. It was actually a very good Italian restaurant (and Montreal has many of these), but this particular offering was awful and consisted of dried out slices of veal spread out on a plate with overcooked prosciutto just scattered randomly on top and a few flakes of dried sage visible here and there but not otherwise detectable. I am fairly confident that today’s version will be better….
- 2 boneless Pork Chops;
- 1 – 2 slices Prosciutto;
- 6 – 12 Sage leaves (slice large ones in half lengthwise);
- Salt and Pepper;
- ¼ cup Flour;
- 4 tbsp. Butter;
- 1/3 cup Chicken Stock;
- 4 – 6 tbsp. Port (use Marsala wine if you can get it … I couldn’t);
- 1 tbsp. Capers (optional).
We need very thin slices of meat for this preparation, so first trim the chops of fat and then slice horizontally into 3 or 4 pieces. Next, gently pound each slice to make even thinner.
Some versions of Saltimbocca make little ‘rafts’ consisting of a piece of sage and a prosciutto pinned with a toothpick to the veal and then simply sautéed. The above picture, courtesy of Wikipedia, illustrates this but, today, we will be using an alternate method and make little rolls instead.
We can make two rolls from each slice. After cutting the slices, it helps to pond one end even thinner as this will help the rolls stay closed without resorting to toothpicks to hold them together.
Slice the Prosciutto into small pieces about half the size of each pork section and place it on top of the meat along with a sage leaf (or half-thereof). Then, tightly roll and repeat with the remainder.
Dust the rolls lightly with flour, shaking off the excess, and then melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a pan over moderate heat. Pan-fry the rolls, seam side down at first, and then cook on all sides until golden. Remove to a warmed plate for the moment.
Finally, deglaze the pan using the stock and wine, and reduce the sauce until thickened. Whisk in the remaining butter, add the capers (if using) and return the rolls to the pan. Allow the rolls to finish cooking (just a few minutes or so) and then plate and serve with the pan sauce poured over.
I served my Saltimbocca as an appetizer with stuffed grilled tomato on the side. A few roils opened up slightly while cooking but none fell apart and the result was very tasty indeed. I was actually a little afraid of the sage being too assertive but I could have used larger leaves than I did here and the result would, I think, have been nicer. I am thinking that a similar preparation , perhaps with a different sauce, might be nice cold…