It was the nineties and I was a teenager, but I remember the first time I ate saltimbocca as though it were yesterday. The thin slice of veal, pinned with a sage leaf, and topped with a slice of prosciutto surely lived up to its promise to 'jump in the mouth'; not to mention that it must also have been my first taste of the latter. It drew me back to 'The Botanic' so often that I felt a loss when years later they closed their doors for the last time: I had and never even considered ordering anything else. Saltimbocca was one of the first things I cooked for myself in my first year of Art School when it didn't occur to me to look for a recipe (frankly you don't really need one), and it was the first thing I cooked for my husband. It was only years later that I realised the addition of lemon may not be traditional, but it must have been there when I first ate it and so it remains. There are always rosemary roasted potatoes and spinach too. I'm a creature of habit.
Saltimbocca alla romana
4 thin slices veal (around 60-70g /slice)
4 slices prosciutto (I like San Daniele)
4 large sage leaves, plus a few extra
2 tablespoons plain flour (optional)
40g butter (divided)
Extra virgin olive oil
125ml dry white wine
80ml lemon juice
Sea salt and dried chilli flakes, to taste
Season one side of a piece of veal lightly with sea salt and top the other side with a sage leaf and a slice of prosciutto. You may like to use a toothpick to secure them, but I don’t find it necessary. Lightly flour the side without the prosciutto. Repeat with the remaining veal.
Warm a splash of olive oil and half the butter in a large frying pan over high heat. Cook the veal, prosciutto side down for about 2 minutes, turn and cook for a further minute or two. Remove to a warmed plate.
Add remaining butter to the pan along with the extra sage leaves, wine and lemon juice. Season with sea salt and chilli flakes. Increase heat to high and reduce until thick and syrupy (about 3 minutes), drizzle over veal and serve immediately.