Ever since Marcella Hazan died in late September, I’ve been wanting to post my favorite recipe of her’s, but it wasn’t easy to pick. My sister gave me her first cookbook, “The Classic Italian Cookbook” in 1980, and I think I spent the next 5 years making almost every recipe in it. Her recipes are easy, and they are authentic Italian cooking. Her cookbooks are credited with introducing the world to the techniques of Italian cooking. She was a pioneer in this field. So many of her recipes were dishes that my mother and grandmothers made, but had never written down. It was so nice to now have exact measurements and instructions for simple dishes like “breaded veal cutlets, Milan style,” or ‘veal Marsala.” So how was I going to pick a recipe to share with you? Well, I went through the book carefully, which in and of itself brought back so many memories, and decided to pick the recipe that was the most stained, therefore, the most used. The winner was “Veal Scaloppine with Tomatoes.” My mom made veal in so many different ways, many of which are in this cookbook. Veal was not as expensive as it is now, so it was a dinner regular in our house. My mom’s veal parmesan was always a favorite of mine (I will be posting that recipe in the near future), but I find this recipe to be a lighter version of that since there is no frying or cheese. The tomatoes and capers give the veal a wonderful flavor.
I’ve changed the recipe a bit over the years, and so did she. She made some alterations to her original recipe in her 1992 cookbook, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.” The change is ever so slight, and that’s what I’ll be sharing here with you. These two cookbooks are great additions to any collection. I’m so happy I have them. My only regret is that I never attended one of her cooking classes or demonstrations over the years and had them signed. She did so much for Italian cuisine, and Italian home cooking.
For a real treat, read her memoir, “Armacord.” You will be amazed at her story of how her life’s circumstances brought her from a childhood in a small town in Emiglia Romagna, Italy, to becoming the world’s “godmother” of Italian cooking.
RECIPE: 4 servings
1 pound veal scaloppine, very thinly sliced and pounded flat
2 1/2 TBSP. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed or halved
3/4 cup flour, spread on a dinner plate or waxed paper
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup canned imported Italian peeled, plum tomatoes, chopped with their juice
1 TBSP butter
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 TBSP capers, rinsed well
1. Put the oil and garlic in a skillet, turn on the heat to medium, and cook the garlic until it becomes a light nut brown. Remove it from the pan and discard it.
2. Turn up the heat to medium high. Dredge the scaloppine in flour, by dipping both sides in the flour and shaking off the excess. Saute the veal very rapidly on both sides in the hot oil. Do not overcook. It is sufficient to brown them lightly, which should take a minute or so on each side. Never dip the scaloppine in the flour until you are ready to cook them or it will not brown properly. (Marcella’s cookbooks taught me this……and it is absolutely correct!).
3. Transfer the scaloppine to a warm platter and season with salt and pepper.
4. Over medium-high heat, add the wine, and while the wine simmers, use a wooden spoon to loosen all cooking residues on the bottom and sides of the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes with their juice, stirring to coat well. Then add the butter and any juices that the scaloppine may have shed on the platter. Stir and adjust heat to cook at a steady, but gentle simmer.
5. In 15 or 20 minutes, when the fat floats free of the tomatoes, add the oregano and capers and stir thoroughly. Return the scaloppine to the pan and turn them once or twice in the tomato sauce for about a minute until they are warm again.
6. Turn out the entire contents of the pan onto a warm platter and serve at once.
** Marcella recommends that you serve this with a sautéed green vegetable…….and I always do!