Are you looking for a meat dish that is quick, easy, and satisfying – even elegant? Pork Saltimbocca literally is a “leap in the mouth” of tender buttery goodness. The advantages of this dish is the cooking does not interfere with other preparations you are making, especially when you are entertaining. You can prep it ahead of time and cook it quickly at the last minute just before serving. Some say the original dish came from Brescia because of the use of veal, but today you can be sure it has taken firm footing in Roman cuisine where it is ubiquitous in the city’s restaurants. I use pork because I have a hard time finding good veal in my area. I start with a whole piece of good quality boneless pork loin and then cut it in 1/8 inch thick slices.
1 lb boneless pork roast
4 oz block of monterey jack cut into logs (about an inch) – the purpose of this is so the cheese won’t melt into nothing when you are cooking it
8 oz prosciutto
several fresh leaves of sage
salt and pepper; onion salt (optional)
flour enough for dusting the meat
butter and olive oil
water, broth, lemon juice or wine – about 1/4 c
You’ll also need toothpicks to secure the meat pouches.
Lay the slices on a cutting board and pound them lightly between two sheets of plastic wrap. Lightly salt (not too much) the meat. Place a slice of prosciutto on the pork, one piece of cheese and a small leaf of sage.
Once you have prepared the meat, you are ready to fold each and fasten with a toothpick.
At this point you can cover the meat with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge while you go about fixing the rest of the meal, greet your guests, cook pasta…I would not do this hours before you cook it, but a few won’t hurt the dish.
When you are ready to cook the saltimbooca, heat your pan until it is hot. Add 2-3 tbl of olive oil and 2 tbl of butter (you can reduce the quantity if this is too fat for you. Dust the meat with a flour and place in the pan at moderate heat as you see in the photo above. Salt lightly (I sometimes use onion salt to give the dish and extra boost), flip the pieces and lightly brown on the other side.
At this point, you can cover the pan, turn off the heat, and let the meat rest if you have a large group your are cooking for – or if you are entertaining a dinner party. This is a tip coming from my mother who used to cater and would prep the dish until this point. Then she would resume as explained below.
You will see the cheese begin to melt, add 1/2- 3/4 cup of water, broth, or wine. Shake the pan until a sauce forms, slide it all on a platter (I added a little basil at the end only because it was handy) and voilà the dish is ready to serve.
Pork saltimbocca can be served as a main dish in all seasons of the year. Pair it with lightly sautéed string beans or spinach, mashed potatoes or rice, as a second course following a pasta or risotto. It’s a good all around dish to have in your repertoire!