Veal piccata is such a simple dish, which might be why it's such a classic comfort food—because where's the comfort in toiling away in the kitchen all night?
But its simplicity belies a complex and wonderful blend of flavors and textures: the tangy lemon, briny capers and a rich, buttery pan sauce that lovingly envelopes the golden brown veal cutlets like a warm blanket. A favorite way to serve it is with fluffy mashed potatoes, so it's like a blanket and a featherbed.
Veal cutlets usually come from the rump, and they're sliced about 1/4 inch thick. After pounding, they're more like 1/8 inch, which means they cook quickly. That's what allows us to cook it in a very hot pan. By the time the outside is perfectly golden brown, it's fully cooked.
You can ask your butcher to flatten the cutlets for you, but you'll be missing all the fun. Just place them between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and pound gently with a meat mallet (the flat side, if you please) or some other flat, heavy object. The bottom of a skillet is perfect.
Dredging the cutlets in flour before cooking aids with browning and also helps thicken the sauce.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- Freshly ground white pepper (to taste)
- 2 tablespoon high-heat vegetable oil (e.g. safflower, sunflower, peanut, grapeseed)
- 8 (2-ounce) veal cutlets (pounded flat)
- 1 cup veal stock (or chicken stock)
- 1/2 cup dry sherry (see note)
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 2 tablespoon capers
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon Italian parsley (finely chopped)
Gather the ingredients.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a plate or in a shallow baking dish.
Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat for two minutes. You really do want to let your pan get nice and hot. Once it is, add the oil and heat for another 30 seconds or so.
Now dredge both sides of the veal cutlets in the flour mixture.
Shake off any excess flour and add them, one at a time, to the hot pan. Work in batches if necessary, rather than overcrowding the pan.
Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until the cutlets are nicely browned.
Remove them from the pan and set aside on a plate, covered with foil, while you make the sauce. (You can hold them in a very low temperature oven, if you like.)
Add the stock, sherry, lemon juice, and capers to the pan and scrape off any flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower it to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by about one-third.
Swirl in the butter and chopped parsley just at the end of the cooking. Adjust seasoning with Kosher salt and lemon juice.
Plate the cutlets, two per person. Garnish with lemon slices. Sauce generously and serve immediately.