November 19, 2021
If you’re just stumbling upon my food & wine blog, ciao, I’m Kelly. I’m learning Italian one recipe at a time. I love exploring the boot from my kitchen through its regional cuisine. Welcome to my table!
The Original Saltimbocca alla Romana
Today our tastebuds are taking a trip to Rome with Saltimbocca alla Romana, which translates to “jump in your mouth, Roman style” – it’s that good.
The ingredients and cooking instructions are simple. Thinly sliced veal, prosciutto and sage are pinned together with a toothpick and then dredged in flour and then cooked in butter and a dash of white wine. The flour naturally thickens the butter and wine into a creamy sauce.
Saltimbocca alla Romana exemplifies the genius of Italian cuisine: few, yet complementary ingredients that create a profound depth of flavor. The salty prosciutto and earthy sage with a hint of acidity from the wine and fat from the butter are a mosaic of flavor that explode in your mouth, craving more with each bite.
In my quest to make authentic Saltimbocca alla Romana while practicing my Italian, I consulted several different recipes in Italian. As with any classic recipe, there are still slight variations depending on the chef.
The Saltimbocca alla Romana recipe that I prefer is from Chef Stefano Barbato. He uses butter only rather than a combination of butter and olive oil, which maintains the purity of that irresistible butter flavor. Next, he dredges both sides of the veal in flour instead of just one. I found that this amount of flour provides enough to thicken the butter and wine into a nice, creamy sauce. I also found that the flour provided a protective coating so that the prosciutto stays tender and didn’t crisp up (which also brings out the saltiness a little too much). And finally, I love the look of the sage leaf on the outside of the prosciutto (rather than under) for presentation and also to allow it to cook in the butter.
Veal is the traditional meat in Saltimbocca alla Romana. However, in the US veal can be quite expensive and difficult to find, so chicken is a common substitute.
If using large chicken breasts, slice them as thinly as possible (one or two times horizontally). I have also used chicken cutlets which are much smaller and already thin enough – just pound them so that they are even thinner and more even.
This version is perfect for a quick, easy & delicious weekday dinner or a crowd pleaser for a gathering.
I think that the flavors of Saltimbocca alla Romana would also go well with turkey cutlets. This version could be a wonderful alternative to a whole turkey at Thanksgiving if you wanted to bring some Italian-inspired recipes to the table.
One of my favorite white wine alternatives is dry white Vermouth. Trader Joe’s has a bottle of Italian dry white Vermouth for $3.99 that I always keep in the fridge for cooking (up to a month). Vermouth is fortified wine so it keeps longer, and it also is flavored with herbs and spices, making it perfect for savory dishes.
Saltimbocca alla Romana – the original recipe & adaptations
- Meat mallet
- 4 veal cutlets (can sub chicken breast/cutlets or turkey cutlets)
- salt and pepper to taste
- flour for dredging
- 4-5 tbsp butter
- 8 sage leaves one large or two small for each cutlet
- 2 tbsp white wine or dry white Vermouth
- Note: The above measurements are just suggestions. Feel free to adjust the serving size and quantities according to your needs. This is an easy recipe to eyeball, or as the Italians say, quanto basta, use as much as needed!
- If using chicken breasts or turkey cutlets, slice in half horizontally if too thick.
- Pound the meat (veal, chicken, turkey) under plastic wrap or in a ziplock bag so that it is thin and even.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place a layer of prosciutto and then a sage leaf on top. Secure with a toothpick.
- Dredge both sides in flour.
- Heat a few tablespoons of butter butter in a pan over medium heat (lower the temperature if it gets too hot so that the butter doesn't burn). Add more butter if the pan gets dry so that the meat doesn't stick.
- Cook for a few minutes on each side until the meat is cooked through.
- Add a splash of white wine or dry white Vermouth and let the alcohol cook off.
- Add a few more tablespoons of butter as necessary and allow it to thicken into a creamy sauce.
- Buon appetito!