By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
Saltimbocca means “jump in the mouth,” and this dish is traditionally from Rome . . . or maybe from Brescia.
The great Pellegrino Artusi, in his 1891 book Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, tells how he would have eaten the dish for the first time in a famous Roman trattoria named “Le Venete,” located in via di Campo Marzio. But many authors state that this delicious dish isn’t originally from Rome but from Brescia, in Northern Italy. Even the famous cooking writer Ada Boni in her The Roman Cuisine of 1930 spoke about this dish as an import that only later took Roman citizenship—possibly due to the popularity of Artusi’s book. The same thing was said in other cookbooks, where the paternity of the saltimbocca was attributed to Brescian chefs. It seems they were cooked for the first time in the pre-unification period, in Lombardy-Veneto, in Brescia, between Vicenza and Verona.
At any rate, Romans are proud of their saltimbocca, and so are Brescians. It's just another great example of how in Italian cuisine, the same dish can be cooked in many different kitchens in different regions of our country.
You might see speck used instead of raw ham, chicken slices instead of veal. You'll see some variations where a slice of cheese is added. Sometimes brandy will be used instead of wine to give the dish an extra kick. These variations and more are all delicious versions of the saltimbocca. It's quick and easy to make and is a true Italian dish.
Don’t forget to remove the toothpick before eating them!
Saltimbocca alla Romana
8 slices prosciutto
8 large sage leaves
1/2 glass white wine
Flour for dredging
Pinch of pepper
8 slices veal
Pound the veal slices to 1/8" thick between layers of saran wrap.
Place a slice of prosciutto on top of each veal slice, pressing so that it fits the slice.
Place a sage leaf in the center of the prosciutto, securing it with a toothpick.
Lightly press both sides of each saltimbocca into the flour, lightly dredging it before you fry.
Cut a couple of large butter curls and add to a large skillet to melt.
Settle the saltimbocca into the butter, adding a dash of pepper to each piece.
Brown on both sides.
Sprinkle with white wine, cook for a few minutes, and serve.
Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), The Grimore, The Magic of the Moon, and Magic Herbs (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).