Friday, July 24, 2015

Scallopini di Vitello Piccata









     Classic Veal Piccata!    
     Veal Piccata is an old traditional Italian entrée.  The word Piccata has a loosely defined meaning according to some food historians.  Some say that Piccata refers to the Paillard technique of pounding meat flat, while others say that it refers to the crisp lemon flavor of the sauce.  By the old French cuisine definitions, Veal Piccata is the same thing as Veal Francaise, but many old French culinary references offer biased opinions concerning Italian cuisine.  
     Veal Piccata and Veal Francaise are similar recipes.  Every working classic cuisine chef knows what the differences are.
     Veal Francaise is escalloped veal that has a light egg batter coating.  The egg batter can contain a small proportion of bread crumbs.  Classic Veal Francaise Sauce is started with butter and a small amount of minced shallot and garlic.  White wine and lemon juice is added and the sauce is quickly reduced.  A tiny amount of glace viande is usually added to a classic Veal Francaise Sauce.  The sauce is finished by emulsifying the sauce with butter.  Francaise Sauce is usually garnished with either minced parsley or capers.  Lemon is the key flavor.
     Veal Piccata is escalloped veal that is dredged in flour and sautéed.  Piccata Sauce is started with garlic, olive oil and butter, with no shallot in the mix.  White wine is added and the sauce is quickly reduced.  A small amount of chicken broth or veal broth can be added to Veal Piccata sauce.   The flour on the veal binds the sauce, so the sauce is not an emulsion.  Italian Veal Piccata Sauce is usually garnished with thin sliced mushrooms and minced parsley.  French style Veal Piccata Sauce is usually garnished with minced fine herbs.  The key to Piccata Sauce is the bright crisp tasting lemon flavor.  To achieve this crisp flavor, lemon is added very late in the recipe.
     As one can see, there are subtle differences between classic Veal Francaise and classic Veal Piccata.  Other than the garnishes, the key difference is when the lemon juice is added.  Veal Francaise has a mellow lemon flavor, because the lemon juice is added earlier in the recipe.  Italian Veal Piccata has a very sharp bright lemon flavor, because lemon is added later in the recipe.

     Scallopini di Vitello Piccata:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Pound 3 or 4 escalloped slices of veal leg thin with a meat mallet.  (About 6 ounces of veal scallopini is a good portion.)
     Dredge the veal escallops in flour.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add the floured veal scallopini.
     Sauté till the scallopini on both sides, till a few golden brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1/2 cup of thin sliced small portobello mushrooms.
     Sauté till the mushrooms start to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/2 cup of light veal broth or chicken broth.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer and reduce, till the flour on the veal thickens the sauce to a thin consistency.
     Step 6:  Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of of minced Italian Parsley.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Presentation:
     Step 1:  Overlap the veal scallopini across the front half of a plate.
     Place the mushrooms across the back half the scallopini pieces.
     Spoon most of the sauce over the scallopini and on the plate.  (Save about 1 tablespoon of sauce in the pan.)
     Step 2:  Toss 1 small portion of a pasta of your choice with the sauce that remains in the pan.  (I used Fusilli di Farro for the entrée presentation in the photos.)
     Place the pasta on the back half of the plate.
     Place an Italian style vegetable of your choice next to the pasta.  (Sautéed sliced zucchini and onion with a pinch of oregano is a good choice.)
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs.

     This is how Veal Piccata should be!  Classic Veal Piccata does not look like Veal Schnitzel or Veal Francaise.

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