This classic veal scallopini with piccata sauce comes together quickly and is easy to master. Tried and true recipe!
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About This Veal Piccata Recipe
The Italian word scaloppine, when applied to red meat, means a thin slice cut across the grain of the fillet of a round of veal, mutton or beef. Scaloppine is the plural and diminutive form of scaloppa which translates to escalope in English. In the US the word is commonly spelled as scallopini.
The thinly sliced veal is usually prepared with a delicious sauce and piccata is one of the most popular ones. It is made with white wine, lemon juice, butter, and capers.
The classic piccata veal scaloppini dish we are making here is known in Italy as scallopine di vitello de limone or scaloppine al vino bianco or simply piccata di vitello de limone.
NOTE: Technically, in terms of the actual cut, scallopini are identical to the veal cutlets used to make schnitzel. You can ask your butcher to slice them for you and The meaning of each word is largely the same, schnitzel is just the popular breaded and fried preparation in Austrian cuisine and in the German food tradition.
You Will Need
- Besides thinly sliced veal you will need salt and pepper to season the cutlets and a bit of flour to dredge them in so they can form a crispy outside.
- For the vibrant, piquant sauce you will need traditional Southern Italian ingredients – light white wine, lemons (for slices and juice), capers in brine (drained), chicken stock or base, butter (to give the sauce a silky texture in the end) and Italian fresh parsley.
TIP: The advantage of using chicken base with a bit of water instead of chicken stock is that the latter does take longer to reduce. With the chicken base you can add less water by volume and significantly cut the simmering time required to thicken the sauce.
There are two distinct parts to preparing this dish – first you cook the scallopini and then you prepare the piccata sauce (while keeping the veal cutlets warm).
Prep. Pat try the veal pieces. If they have not been sliced really thin and tenderlized, cover them with plastic and lightly pound them with a meat mallet over a cutting board. This will thin them out and tenderize them.
Season. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge the cutlets, shaking off any excess flour and place them on a plate, ready to cook.
Pan-fry. Over medium heat melt the butter and olive oil and working in batches cook the scallopini for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on how large they are cut. Transfer them to a platter and keep them warm (you can either place them in a 180 F oven or on the stove top lightly tented with foil.
TIP: Alternatively, to speed things up, you can use two side by side skillets and stove burners and simultaneoulsy cook the veal. In this case you will need extra butter and olive oil for the second skillet.
To make the sauce for veal piccata use the same pan in which you cooked the cutlets.
Deglaze. Add wine to the skillet and gently scrape all the brown bits from the bottom. Allow the wine to simmer to reduce by half.
Make the base. Add the chicken stock to the reduced wine or add the chicken base and about three quarters of a cup of water. Mix well. Add the lemons and simmer for a minute or two (if using stock simmer longer to reduce the liquid).
Finish the piccata. Once the sauce has thickened, add the butter, fresh lemon juice, and capers. Stir, simmer for a minute and fold in the chopped parsley. Take away from the heat.
What to Serve with Veal Piccata
Before you pour the sauce over the warm, cooked scallopini, arrange them on a serving platter so there is a slight overlap between pieces. Alternatively, plate individually.
Traditional sides that go well with this Italian favorite are:
- pasta – thin, long noodles preferred
- mashed potatoes – garlic flavored ones taste particularly good in combination with the zesty sauce, so do these buttery champ potatoes
- rice – simple boiled long grain rice, fluffed with a fork
- couscous – prepared with chicken stock if possible
- vegetables – try this white asparagus recipe or these easy broccolini
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- 2 lbs veal scallopini (10-12 thin veal cutlets)*
- salt and pepper, to taste, to liberally season the cutlets
- 1/3 cup flour, heaping
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cup chicken stock (or 1 tbsp chicken base and 3/4 cup water)**
- 1 large lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup capers (drained)***
- 2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
Preheat oven to 175 F (optional, if you want to keep the veal warm in the oven while cooking in batches).
Pat dry the veal cutlets and season them with salt and pepper. Pour the flour in a shallow bowl and dredge each cutlet, shake off excess. Arrange floured scallopini on a plate.
In a skillet over medium-high heat add the butter and olive oil. When bubbly cook the veal until browned on each side. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on how large the pieces. Work in batches and transfer cooked scallopini to a platter (keep warm in the oven or near stove top tented with foil).
The the same skillet in which you cooked the veal add the wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits of flavor from the bottom and simmer until wine reduces by half.
Add the chicken stock/base + water and the lemon slices. Stir and simmer. If stock, simmer for 8-10 minutes until reduced by half. If base and water, simmer for about 1-2 minutes.
Once the sauce has thickened a bit, add the butter, lemon juice, capers and mix well. Finally, fold in the parsley, stir and remove from the heat.
Pour the piccata sauce over the veal scallopini, arrange the lemon slices for pleasing visual effect and serve.
To speed up the cooking process for the veal cutlets consider using two skillets on two separate stove top rings simultanelously. You will need extra butter and olive oil for the second skillet.
*If the veal cutlets you bought were not already tenderized and pounded thin do so yourself before you begin cooking. Use wooden board, plastic wrap and a meat mallet to lightly pound them.
**If you use chicken base and water you will not have to simmer the sauce to reduce it and will save time. First taste the chicken base, if too salty you may want to use a bit less than 1 tbsp.
***Taste the capers, sometimes the brine is really salty and you may want to rinse them before adding them to the picccata sauce.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 556Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 795mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 26g