Classic Veal Piccata in Less Than 30 Minutes

Classic veal piccata on a white rimmed plate

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings

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 envelops the golden brown veal cutlets like a warm blanket. A favorite way to serve veal piccata is with fluffy mashed potatoes, so it's like a blanket and a featherbed. Veal goes well with rice and pasta, too, and vegetables such as green beans, mushrooms, and carrots.

Veal cutlets usually come from the rump, and they're sliced about 1/4 inch thick. They're more like 1/8 inch after pounding, which means they cook quickly in a very hot pan. By the time the outside is perfectly golden brown, they're fully cooked.

Veal piccata derives its name from Italian, and the culinary term means "to be pounded flat." 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.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground white pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons 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
  • 1 lemon (juiced, divided)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley (finely chopped)
  • Garnish: lemon slices

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic veal piccata ingredients
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  2. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a plate or in a shallow baking dish.

    Combine the flour, salt, and pepper

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  3. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes and let your pan get nice and hot. Once it is, add the oil and heat for another 30 seconds or so. 

    Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan with oil over medium-high heat

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  4. Now dredge both sides of the veal cutlets in the flour mixture.

    Both sides of veal cutlet dredged in flour

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  5. Shake off any excess flour and add them to the hot pan one at a time. Work in batches if necessary, rather than overcrowding the pan.

    Shake off excess flour and put the veal in pan
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  6. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until the cutlets are nicely browned.

    Cook the veal cutlets 2 to 3 minutes per side

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  7. 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.)

    Remove from pan and cover with foil

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  8. Add the stock, sherry, half of the lemon juice, and capers to the pan and scrape off any flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan. 

    Cook veal piccata sauce and scrape the bottom of the pan

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  9. 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 a third.

    Bring the sauce to a boil then simmer and reduce

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  10. Swirl in the butter and chopped parsley just at the end of the cooking. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt and remaining lemon juice. 

    Swirl in the butter and chopped parsley into the sauce

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  11. Plate the cutlets, 2 per person, and garnish with lemon slices. Sauce generously and serve immediately. Enjoy.

    Classic veal piccata served with lemon slices

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Why Is Veal So Expensive?

It's a simple issue of supply and demand. Veal comes from calves, and there are fewer of them that are generally grown for their meat versus adult cows.

Tip

  • Dredging the cutlets in flour before cooking aids with browning and also helps thicken the sauce. 

How to Store and Freeze Veal

Leftover veal piccata will keep in the refrigerator for three or four days, if well wrapped. To reheat, place it in a low oven (300 F) with the sauce on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Add some more stock to cover, and cover with foil. Reheat for about 15 to 20 minutes until completely hot.


To freeze leftover veal piccata, separate the veal from the sauce if at all possible. Store the sauce in a zip-close bag or a freezer-safe jar, and the veal, well-wrapped, in a zip-close freezer bag.

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