The irresistible Roman dish that will blow your mind

The literal translation of saltimbocca is “jump in your mouth” – yes, that’s really what they do once the plate is placed in front of you. You will eat them in one bite; they are irresistible.

The simple dish of veal cutlets, prosciutto and sage is believed to have originated in Brescia, but it’s now a fixture on many Roman trattoria menus, as well as an effortless home-cooking staple. That’s why I think it’s a genius recipe.

You will need toothpicks, to hold the ingredients together, and a large saucepan will come in handy, as you can cook all the saltimbocca in one go!

The veal should be sliced ​​thin, as it will only cook for a few minutes in the pan. If your slices are too thick, you can pound them with a mallet until they are very thin and tender. I’ve made saltimbocca even with thin slices of chicken breast, and the recipe works just as well. Just be sure to cook the chicken for a few more minutes, until nicely browned.

Usually, I advise against cooking with prosciutto crudo for several reasons: First, I prefer to have it as is, uncooked, to preserve its taste and texture. Second, buying a good artisanal prosciutto crudo is expensive, so cooking with it is a shame. Third, it usually becomes chewy and extremely salty when cooked. But saltimbocca alla Romana might be the exception, as it requires the prosciutto to be cooked so briefly that it remains delicate and soft. My only advice is not to splurge on the best prosciutto crudo – leave it for a quick lunch with mozzarella and grilled vegetables – and go for a medium supermarket variety. It will do.

As you will notice, I cook saltimbocca with butter. I had to convince my inner Tuscan to use butter instead of extra virgin olive oil, which I usually automatically use whenever I cook meat. I did not regret it. Please bake some bread to mop up the juice.

Ada Boni suggests serving the saltimbocca with a generous side of green beans, peas, artichokes, asparagus or potatoes.

For 4 to 6 people

  • 8 thin slices of veal (or chicken breast), about 12 ounces
  • 4 large slices of prosciutto crudo, about 3 ounces
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Arrange the slices of veal on a cutting board. Top each slice with half a slice of prosciutto, then place the sage leaf on top. Secure with a toothpick, like pinning two pieces of fabric together. Don’t roll them up.

Melt half the butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add the slices of veal. Do not overcrowd them in the pan. If the pan is too small to hold them all, fry them in batches.

Brown the slices on both sides for just a few minutes, until they begin to change color. Transfer to a warmed serving plate, then finish cooking the rest.

Lightly season the saltimbocca with salt and pepper; remember that prosciutto crudo is already quite salty.

Add the remaining butter to the skillet, along with the water. Scrape the pan with a wooden spatula and cook over medium-high heat until the butter has melted into a smooth caramel-colored sauce.

Pour the sauce over the saltimbocca and serve immediately.

Adapted from “Italian Regional Cuisine” by Ada Boni