Flash in the Pan – Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Sage

Tackling your first scaloppine recipe is a bit like being handed the car keys for your first night driving solo, an event occasioning braggadocio tempered by  a gruff fatherly warning, Don’t screw this up.  Your skills are on display.  Since the dish is cooked just a few minutes before eating, it necessarily involves a bit of brinksmanship.  If it doesn’t work, well, there’s always pizzaphone.  The thing is, despite appearances there’s not much chance of that happening.  The risk is illusory.  This week’s Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Sage is guaranteed to have you home by midnight.  Plus, you’re going to look really good.

Scallops, scaloppini, scaloppine (Italian) and escalopes (French) are all the same thing–thin cuts of meat, pounded even thinner by the cook (that would be you) before being dredged in flour and sautéed in butter, oil or a combination of the two.  Although veal is the traditional protein of choice, this technique is easily adapted to pork, poultry (turkey is particularly good), and even meaty seafood like salmon or swordfish.  Prep is minimal, and any crispy bits left in the pan make a quick delicious sauce.  Fancy, fast, vast acclaim from all–what’s not to like?

Jody’s recipe does all of the above, minus the flour.  That’s because we wrap the scallops in prosciutto, which adds a bit of complexity to the pork inside.  Sage is a traditional accompaniment to veal scaloppine, but in this case it’s also a great match with pork.  Also, if you take the trouble to place a sage leaf under the prosciutto it will look spectacular after cooking.

If this is your first time, remember to pay attention, don’t play the radio too loud, go slow, and try to enjoy yourself.  Ken

Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Balsamic Vinegar TGF-2

Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto,

Capers and Sage

Makes 4 entree servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 4-ounce pork cutlets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12-20 sage leaves, depending on the size
  • 8 thin slices prosciutto, about 4 ounces
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoon rinsed capers

Directions:

  1. Pound the cutlets  so they are about twice their original size and all of even thickness at ¼-inch to make scaloppine.  Season the inside only with salt and pepper.
  2. Top each scallop with a couple of sage leaves. Fold the cutlet in half, enclosing the sage.  Add a leaf or two on top. Wrap each one with 2 prosciutto slices, putting only a single layer over the sage leaves.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large sauté pan medium heat. Add the scaloppine, sage side down, and cook on the first side 2 minutes flip and cook on the second side until the meat is slightly under done and the prosciutto is crispy, about 1½ minutes.. The meat will continue to cook as it rests.
  4. Transfer the pork to a warm platter to rest.
  5. Add the remaining butter to the pan and allow it to brown. Add the shallots and capers and cook 30 seconds.  Add the balsamic vinegar.  Once the butter foams up, remove the pan from the heat.  If you leave the pan on the heat too long, the balsamic vinegar will start to evaporate and the remainder will caramelize too much.  Season with pepper and pour over the pork.
  6. Serve with boiled potatoes, a green vegetable like asparagus or a salad.

Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Balsamic Vinegar TGF-3

Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Balsamic Vinegar TGF-5 Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Balsamic Vinegar TGF-13 Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Balsamic Vinegar TGF-16 Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Balsamic Vinegar TGF-19 Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Balsamic Vinegar TGF-25 Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Balsamic Vinegar TGF-27

Jody Notes:

Growing up, I always thought scaloppine was a big slab of veal–breaded, fried and slathered with a Marsala mushroom sauce.  When I began learning about regional Italian cuisine I discovered that’s a far cry from the ideal.  It should be a thin piece of lightly pounded meat, cooked quickly and topped with a simple pan sauce.  The Piccata version is made with lemon juice, but I love the added sweetness of the balsamic vinegar in this recipe. And I’ve switched things up by stuffing, folding and wrapping the pork bundle in prosciutto.  It’s still pretty quick.  

Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Capers and Balsamic Vinegar TGF-28

Step through the gallery to see the steps of the recipe in detail, or just click on a photo to see it enlarged.

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52 thoughts

  1. Absolutely gorgeous. I love everything about this post. I love that you replaced the more traditional veal of Saltimbocca with pork (which I personally like better), I love that you used capers, I love that you used a balsamic vinegar and shallots to deglaze the pan, and I really love the pictures. Yum and thank you!

    • Hi, Darya–Thank you for your kind words. It’s a fun dish to make, especially with a friend in the kitchen and a shared bottle of wine. I never tasted balsamic vinegar until I was in my late twenties–and I instantly became a convert. I even like adding a splash to risotto once in awhile. Ken

    • Thanks, Barbara. In our original iteration we used turkey, then we switched to pork. I thought I’d caught all the changes – guess not. :-) And yes, it is a versatile recipe – you can even do it with salmon or swordfish. Ken

  2. This looks delicious! Two questions — What is the chopped green you are adding to the balsamic in the pan? And what balsamic vinegar do you use/recommend? Thanks!

  3. Thanks for a great Easter choice- gorgeous, ever so easy, and the butcher shop is on my way home!! All my favorites, including balsamic, shallots and capers! Happy Easter in Boston!

    • Happy Easter to you too, Carol. You know, I never thought about the ham – pork scaloppine connection, but I think with sufficient confidence you could say, “You know, we were just looking for an interesting wrinkle this year instead of going with the same-o-same-o ham. :-) Ken

  4. Divine, you make it looks so easy (and very neatly done I might add). I always worry about undercooking pork, I am surprised it’s cooked so quickly, but I guess as it is so thin it is able to cook through perfectly. I have also been meaning to ask you how you upload photos so that there are a few action shots in one line and of different sizes. I can only seem to upload one large one at a time and when I have tried to do two on the same line it never seems to work. Maybe due to the theme I use – misty look! Any pointers and I would be very grateful. If you have a min it maybe best to reply via my email chilliandmint@gmail.com. Best Torie

    • Hi, Torie–First of all, pork is very safe in the US these days, so we don’t mind if there’s a bit of pink in it. Also, pork here has been getting slimmer and slimmer since the late 1960s. Unless you’re lucky enough to find heirloom pork, which is as fat as it ever was, you want to cook it no more than medium (pink in the middle) or it dries out. Modern American pork has little intramuscular fat, which is why it now rivals chicken as a “diet meat”. Richard Olney, the famous cookbook writer from the ’60s onward, has a few French recipes from the early 1970s that are no longer viable, at least with ordinary American pork. One example is a dish of baked pork chops with cream and apples. Aside from the over-the-top amount of cream, the recipe calls for searing the chops, then baking them in the cream with the apples. :-) The problem is that by the time you’ve got a good sear on a modern chop, it’s done.

      Regarding the pictures, are you talking about the photos that immediately follow the recipe, or the ones in the collage at the end of the post? In the former case, if you see multiple pictures on the same line, it’s because I’ve assembled them into a single image in Photoshop using the layers function.

      If you’re talking about the arrangement of photos in the collage at the bottom of my posts, that’s a property of WordPress’s gallery function. Upload the photos you want to appear in your gallery. Click on “insert media,” then “create a new gallery,” then select the photos you want to appear in the gallery, then “create gallery,” (all of this is spelled out as you’re doing it) then select how you want the gallery displayed, i.e. number of columns, whether you want the gallery to be composed of square tiles, circles, or variable sizes (the one I use). After WP inserts the gallery, you have to Preview your post to see how it came out–it won’t show in the body of the draft post the way ordinary pictures do. Warning: the function is a little buggy. Sometimes after you create the gallery a box will show in your draft, showing you where the gallery is positioned, but I’ve noticed that from time to time the box disappears. The first time it happened, I thought, “Damn! I’ve erased my gallery!” so I created a second. When I Previewed the post it has TWO galleries at the bottom. Good luck. Ken

      P.S. The scaloppine is easy, nothing as complicated as some of the Asian stuff you do–let alone bagels! K.

  5. Dear Ken and Jody,

    I am commenting online–delurking anywhere–for the first time in my life. I am not sure why I stay silent, but I do. However, I love your blog (the stories, photos, recipes) and restaurants. I look forward to finding your little gem my inbox on Fridays and spending many evenings “with you” in both Cambridge and Boston.

    I chuckled aloud when I heard about Jody’s mom’s response to the Blue Zones. She sounds like a spit-fire. I found the series interesting and am delurking because I had to share this: “People who live on the Greek island of Ikaria are known to have remarkably high life expectancies, and researchers have been studying them carefully to learn why. Now a new report suggests that one reason may be the coffee they drink.” When I read this article in the New York Times last week, I smiled and thought of you. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/science/on-one-greek-island-a-caffeinated-secret-to-long-life.html?src=recg

    Warmly,
    Lisa

    • Hi, Lisa–I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog so much (and our children thank you for patronizing the restaurants as well). The coffee! Ha! Well, we’ve got that covered too. In August Jody and I and a group of others will be biking in Provence; maybe we’ll have to arrange the same trip in 2014 to a mythical Greek isle where cyclists live forever and the breakfasts are indescribable. Ken

  6. What a great idea! We’re so lucky to have easy access to wonderfully fatty heritage breed pork here and now you’re also making me wan to pull out the Olney books and the cream as well.

    • Lucky you! We can get heritage pork through local farmers’ markets, but it’s limited and seasonal. There’s a butcher shop in Boston which I’ve been told gets a pig a week, with customers placing orders in advance for what parts they want, but I haven’t had time to investigate it yet. I think the Richard Olney recipe is in his 1974 SIMPLE FRENCH FOOD. Let me know how it goes. Ken

    • Thanks, Laura! The dish is quite easy to do, but difficult–and maybe a bit tedious–to describe. Much easier to just show the steps in the photos. Use heritage pork if you can find it. Happy Easter to you too! Ken

  7. This is one fantastic dish! Well, you can never go wrong with pork on pork, no matter what each pork happens to be called. Even so, your addition of balsamic would really up the flavor of the finished sauce. I truly cannot wait to give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
    You’re right on the money about the state of American pork. Yes, it’s the “the other white meat” but it’s flavorless, too. Mom & Zia quite making sausage back in the 90s because they couldn’t get find pork with enough fat in it. Zia started making it again to teach me, sure, but also because I brought pork fat to add to the grinder. Now I add pancetta and get both flavor and fat.

    • HI, John–I think real pork is making a slow comeback. My wife can get it at her restaurants, but it’s still tough for non-civilians to find it, unless you have the good fortune to live near a source, like the folks in Gourmandistan. I ran into a nascent pig farmer last week at a preserved meat competition in Boston, but like a lot of new farmers his operation is small – 12 pigs – and all of them go to make traditional cured meat. Every time I go to Italy the pork is a revelation. Good idea about adding pork fat and pancetta to make sausage. I want you on my island when the ship goes down. Ken

  8. I think the very first ‘fancy’ recipe I recall making with my mother was a chicken breast wrapped in ham that was dredged and breaded and fried. Anything is better wrapped in pork. I do commiserate on the lack of fat in the pork available to most of us here in the US. Nothing like we see in Italy!

    • Ain’t it the truth? About pork, and about the pork we get in this country. The other sad truth about it is the difficulty in finding leaf lard, which makes legendary pie crusts. Isn’t it funny how Italians take good pork for granted, while we take the opposite to be true. Ken

  9. Even though I don’t eat pork, I can’t help but send cyber high fives for the artistry behind your cooking, Jody. The finished product looks gorgeous.

  10. Jody says thanks, Gwynne (she’s in Providence, getting ready for a talk at Brown). We have plenty of things you can eat coming up, like, say, this next Friday morning. Thanks for commenting. Ken

  11. Pingback: Ceviche – courtesy of North Uist brown trout | Food and Forage Hebrides

  12. I’m midnight-researching copper cookware – inspired by your photos of this post. Is your sauté pan tin-lined? antique/vintage? or current manufacture? I have some a few old pieces my mother collected in the 60s and 70s, both truly old and stainless-lined pieces then-new. But I think I’d enjoy a sauté pan. Interested in your insights.

    • Hi, Sharon–It’s an extra-thick copper sauté pan lined with stainless steel from Dehillerin in Paris, which you can find here: http://www.e-dehillerin.fr/en/cuprinox-extra-thick.php. It’s about 30 years old and remarkably heavy. It’s also a work of art. Our sense is that current models may be a bit lighter. We have never purchased anything from them online, so I can’t speak to their reliability. They are quirkily (or irritatingly, depending on your perspective) French, and visiting the store is not at all like going to Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma. It’s small, it’s cramped, not really built for browsing, and much more likely to give you a positive experience if you go with an idea of what you want. Think wholesale plumbing supplies, with attitude. There may be better cookware out there, but unless we’ve been given something, or needed a specialty item (e.g. a wok), we’ve never felt the need for anything else. We have two large sauté pans (one lined with stainless steel; the other with tin) one small sauté pan (s.s.), and three sauce pans (all lined with s.s.) from them. Jody bought them decades ago as a professional investment and I married into them. Good luck. Ken

  13. Thank you so much, Ken. Perhaps if I sell one of my children, I can have one? Any feelings re: tin vs. Stainless steel lining? My really old, heavy French pot is ready for re-tinning I fear, not sure there’s a resource even in Chicago anymore. So I may have answered my own question. I love the responsiveness when I need to lower the temperature in a hurry.

    • There aren’t many things that you can buy and say to yourself, “I’ve taken care of that for the rest of my life.” The pans are great. As for tin vs. s.s., I prefer s.s.. Both are a joy to use, but s.s. is non-reactive. Tin is like cast-iron – you need to make sure you you don’t put something acidic in it. Since we make a lot of sauce with acidic ingredients like tomatoes it’s easier to go with s.s. Cooking with a great heavy-bottomed pan for the first time is like using a great camera lens for the first time. There’s a revelation, an OMG effect – THAT’S what they were talking about. Both just make life so much easier. Ken

      • :D Unfortunately, I am old enough that the purchase-for-a-lifetime rationalization is somewhat less persuasive. Hmmm, copper sauté pan or Canon L lens . . . .

      • Hi, Leslie–I see comments in a single queue, so I didn’t realize that your comment wasn’t about the current chicken post. Regarding the scallopine, and I’m not being flippant, what’s preventing you from simply pulling it off earlier? The thing about pork is that most American pork is quite lean, so it’s very unforgiving. A little too long in the pan and it’s game over. I’d consider cooking one by itself, then checking the interior after it’s had a minute to rest. Pull it earlier than you otherwise might (or before the recipe says you should), then check. These days if it’s a little pink inside, that’s not a problem. Ken

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