Veal Scallopini w/lemon & capers

[27 Mar 2007 | By | 17 Comments]


I was afraid to try my hand at veal scallopini. I think I was intimidated to attempt this restaurant stalwart, the ‘unavoidable signature dish’ that reflects the caliber of food at a given restaurant.

To gauge an Italian restaurant, I order—with a mix of trepidation and genuine anticipation—veal scallopini. Or in a pinch, I order the other ‘standard Italian’ dish: lasagna (somewhere in my head I hear my husband’s voice: standard and Italian don’t belong in the same breath—it’s an oxymoron! One guess on his heritage.).

Do you do that as well? You walk into a new restaurant—one tied to a particular culinary tradition—and order what is considered the standard, classic, staple [and ideally specialty] entree, since it so stereotypically represents the culinary barometer from, in this case, Italy.

If the lasagna tastes blah, with overcooked pasta and rubbery cheese and ‘how do you ruin red sauce?’, chances are the rest of the menu falls under the ‘blander side of life.’ But if the lasagna melts in your mouth, has award-winning red sauce, fresh noodles, and quality cheese that can hold its own, it may be safe to bet that all dishes are crafted with the utmost care as if for a king (or a non-standard Italian).

So it is with veal. And who am I to take on this ultimate, bar-setting, easily-critiqued culinary feat?

I tried it—and who knew? Found that a simple version is quite easy to make, and the melt-in-your-mouth flavors far outweigh the efforts to plate and put this lemony gem on the table. Even my fourth grader adored it: the veal was tender, the flavors rich yet citrusy with a certain sophistication ushered in by the capers. Steamed or roasted vegetables and some focaccia to sop up the extra sauce makes for a simply prepared, quick to make meal (and just may beckon the status of ‘default dinner’).

And who knows? Maybe at some point, not too long from now, I will venture to make veal marsala?

Veal Scallopini w/lemon and capers
serves 4.

4 scallopini (1/4 – 1/2 inch thick)
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
3-4 T flour
1 lemon (or 2 cubes of lemon juice)
2 T capers, rinsed of brine
2/3 – 1 cup chicken broth
optional: 1/3 cup white wine
optional: 1 T butter
KS&CP (kosher salt & course pepper)

Lightly coat scallopini by dipping into and shaking off flour. Heat skillet over medium high, pouring in 2 T oil and 2 T butter. When almost smoking, add scallopini (two rounds is fine, as they won’t all fit at once, add more oil and butter if needed). Cook one minute per side until browned, place under foil on plate to keep warm. When finished cooking veal, using same pan, pour in broth and wine and simmer until reduced by half (about 15 minutes). Off heat, stir in juice from half a lemon (slice other half into wedges to serve on dinner plate), the capers, 1 T of butter if using and KS&CP to taste. Pour over veal and serve.

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  • ilva said (27 March 2007 at 10:37 pm):

    They look really good Janelle! Brava!

  • Meeta said (27 March 2007 at 11:08 pm):

    This does look great Janelle! I can imagine that all the flavors combine to make a perfect dish!

  • Judy said (28 March 2007 at 10:28 am):

    I just discovered you and I love your site. I will be a frequent visitor. I downloaded several (alot) of your recipes to try. I make veal scallopine but haven’t in a long time, thanks for reminding me.

  • aria said (28 March 2007 at 10:29 am):

    hi janelle, this looks positively delicious! i do the same thing, my litmus test is a ceasar salads. is the lettuce crispy, too much oil in the dressing? fresh croutons? enough anchovy?

    now i’m dreaming of veal scallopini, yum!

  • Linda, The Village Vegetable said (28 March 2007 at 1:33 pm):

    i simply adore your photographY!

  • Terry B said (28 March 2007 at 1:55 pm):

    Sounds delicious, Janelle! I understand your husband’s viewpoint, though. To me, the most exciting Italian cuisine is not the old familiar favorites, but the new stuff–or new to most American palates, anyway.

    In one cookbook I read, a chef talked about living in Italy for a year as a child. Every day, their Italian housekeeper cooked pasta for at least one meal. Over the entire year, she never repeated a recipe–and she never made a traditional red sauce! I think that’s what your husband was talking about.

    One of my favorite ways to cook “Italian” is to start with some fresh vegetables and some olive oil, some herbs and maybe some meat, seafood and/or cheese and just improvise something quick to toss with cooked pasta.

  • Jennifer said (29 March 2007 at 2:08 pm):

    The Scallopini looks delicious! Congratulations! I’ve never had it but it sure looks good!

  • sognatrice said (30 March 2007 at 8:05 am):

    Well, it may not be “standard Italian,” but it sure looks tasty! Here in southern Italy, it isn’t a common dish (in fact, in 3 and a half years here, I haven’t seen it), but even “standard Italians” like to try new things every now and again…evidenced in the fact that when I showed my Italian OH your photo, he was asking when we might try it :)

  • Kat said (30 March 2007 at 10:23 am):

    I just happened upon your website…very nice! Veal is one of those ingredients that I find very intimidating – I also think “awwww…baby cow” and then, can’t eat it. I’m the same way with lamb.

  • sher said (30 March 2007 at 10:30 pm):

    I love straight forward recipes like this. The picture perfectly communicates how yummy that dish tastes. It really makes me drool a bit! :)

  • sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said (31 March 2007 at 7:38 am):

    Looks wonderful. The lemon and capers make the perfect touch! yummy~

  • janelle said (31 March 2007 at 2:53 pm):

    Ilva: Thanks!

    Meeta: We really like it!

    Judy: so glad you found me! Visibility in the vast, webby world can be tricky!

    Aria: ooooh, Caesar salads: great idea!

    Linda: thank you! I love taking photos but am just learning! Such lovely feedback!

    Terry B & Sognatrice: Yikes, see? Just another example of why I need to spend some serious time in Italy!!! (Sognatrice: let me know how it turns out if you try it!)

    Jennifer: thanks!

    Kat: I totally hear you!

    Sher: I love simple and straightforward too. My son calls these kind of meals “quick meals that taste good.”

    Sandi: thanks!

  • Susan said (20 October 2008 at 9:03 am):

    Just found your site. Love it! I just purchased some veal and was looking for a recipe other than the ‘usual’ and ran across yours. I will be making this tonight. I make scallops in a similar way with the lemon and capers. Thanks! I’ll be checking back.

  • Pat from Maine said (5 January 2012 at 4:05 pm):

    Excellent recipe with excellent result tonight. The simple flavors need nothing else. A major secret is NOT overcooking the veal–at a minute on a side, it can still be pink in the middle, and tender. I microplaned Meyer lemons (available this season in our market) into the flour, so their oils informed the cooking veal. With cubed and browned boiled potatoes with cumin and bay, and a wedge of iceberg lettuce with fresh Russian dressing, couldn’t have been better.

  • Chris Suspect said (4 August 2012 at 4:47 pm):

    This is a winner of a recipe. I made one addition and prepped the veal slightly differently.

    First I put salt and pepper on the veal prior to dredging in the flour. Second, I added a crushed garlic clove to the sauce when cooking it down.

    Good stuff. Thanks for posting.

  • Iva said (11 January 2013 at 11:04 am):

    Tried recipe,easy,tasted great,served with pasta

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