Saltimbocca alla Romana: Roman-style Escalopes with Prosciutto and Sage

Saltimbocca alla romana literally translates into English as ‘jump in the mouth’ because this dish is so delicious it seems to leap off the plate straight to your taste buds! This is one of the most famous meat-based dishes from Roman local cuisine made with tenderized veal pieces topped with a slice of prosciutto and a fresh sage leaf before being quickly fried in butter until the sage and prosciutto are crispy and the edges of the meat have caramelized. Now its name makes sense, doesn't it?!

Traditionally made with veal, you can also prepare saltimbocca alla romana using pork or chicken as an alternative to veal.

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Origins of Saltimbocca alla Romana

Though the regional origins of saltimbocca remain unclear, this melt-in-your-mouth dish (sorry, jump-in-the-mouth!) apparently originated in the north Italian city of Brescia. The Romans only adopted it in the 1800s and it has since then become an important part of their culinary culture. 

In his 1891 La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene book, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, Pellegrino Artusi, a sacred name for the world of Italian cuisine, made a strong statement when calling these escalopes alla romana, Roman style. His recipe 222 called Saltimbocca alla romana recreates the dish he had at the trattoria Le Venete in Rome.

Saltimbocca alla Romana

Ingredients

Serves 6

900 g (31.7 oz) veal escalopes, or chicken or pork

150 g (5.3 oz) prosciutto crudo, Parma ham type

100 g (3.5 oz) butter

fresh sage leaves

salt

pepper

Tenderize the slices of meat (or ask your butcher to do it) by hitting them a few times with a meat hammer or rolling pin.

Then lay a slice of prosciutto on each piece of meat, top with a fresh sage leaf, and secure with a toothpick.

Heat half of the butter in a large frying pan and when it melts, add the slices of meat. Start by placing the slice with prosciutto and sage facing downwards. Cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes then turn the slice over to lightly brown the other side.

Tip. By first cooking the side with prosciutto and sage, their flavors are released into the melted butter. When turning the slice over, the flavors will coat the other side of the escalope. This is an important tip to keep in mind!

Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to fry the escalopes in batches. Place the cooked saltimbocca in a serving dish while you prepare the rest.

When you are done, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the hot pan and the remaining butter. Stir and pour this succulent sauce over the cook saltimbocca.

Serve immediately and let them 'jump in your mouth' while hot!

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Saltimbocca alla Romana and Italian Wine

Wine sommelier Eric suggests. This recipe is delicious and delicate at the same time. I would use a red wine with personality, but not a 'bossy' one, so try a Rosso Conero from the Marche region.