Saltimbocca, literally meaning "jumps in the mouth," is one of the most classic Roman dishes: thin veal cutlets topped with slices of prosciutto and fresh sage leaves, all secured with a toothpick and then pan-fried in butter, with a quick roux sauce made by whisking a bit of flour, white wine, and lemon juice into the remaining butter and juices.
I'm not sure if they're called "jumps in the mouth" because they're so delicious or because they're so quick to make—maybe both! In any case, you can have this light and delicate secondo ready in less than 20 minutes.
Many variations exist, of course, but sometimes they are served with capers on top. We would use salt-packed capers, soaked in water for about 10 minutes and then rinsed thoroughly to remove excess salt.
Serve with the same white wine you used to make the sauce—a Frascati or Colli Romani is recommended.
- 1 pound veal cutlets (thin or scallops; about 8 playing card-sized pieces)
- 8 slices prosciutto di Parma
- 8 sage leaves
- 1/4 cup flour (more or less as needed for dredging)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 splash extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons white wine (dry; try a Frascati or Colli Romani)
- 1 squeeze lemon juice
- salt to taste
- white pepper to taste
If your cutlets are not already very thin, place them between sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap and pound them very thin (a little less than 1/4 inch, or about 5 mm thick) with a rubber mallet.
Lay a slice of prosciutto on top of each cutlet, then 1 fresh sage leaf on top of that, and secure with a wooden toothpick (Alternatively, you can roll each cutlet up around the prosciutto and sage to form an involtino).
At about 1- or 2-inch intervals, cut little slits into the edge of the cutlets so that they won't curl up while cooking (you can skip this step, of course, if you are doing them as rolls instead of flat cutlets).
Lightly dredge each cutlet in flour, shaking off any excess.
Melt the butter in a skillet and sauté the cutlets until lightly browned, just 1-2 minutes each side, cooking them more on the veal side than the prosciutto side. Remove the cutlets to a platter.
Deglaze the skillet with a splash of white wine and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits in the bottom of the pan.
Whisk the butter and pan drippings (whisk in an additional pinch of flour, if necessary), and whisk over low heat until the sauce thickens.
Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
Serve the cutlets with the sauce poured over them and lemon wedges, for squeezing on top.