“When in Rome, do as the Romans do!” as the timeworn phrase for going with the flow suggests.
But Dorothy, we’re not in Rome, we’re not even in Kansas. We’re as far west in the new world as you can get from Rome and, with deep respect for Roman cookery, we’re doing it our way.
Traditional Saltimbocca alla Romana or Vitelo Saltimbocca, as it is occasionally dubbed, is a scaloppine of veal pounded thin with a thin slice of prosciutto and sage leaves. It is often sautéed in butter and then served with a pan sauce of stock and wine such as Marsala. It is also made with chicken, turkey or pork with equal success.
Saltimbocca is a contraction of i salta in bocca which means “it jumps in the mouth”. If we could be time-traveling flies-on-the-wall and go back a few centuries to the restaurant where saltimbocca alla Romana began, we’d probable hear some hungry Italian calling to the waiter, “Hey, Guido, bringa me somma dat dish dat jumps ina my mouth!”
Inasmuch as I have declared that we’re doing this my way, any Roman would easily recognize this as Saltimbocca alla Romana with some noticeable differences in flavor. I simply made sure all ingredients were local. Even the prosciutto was a fine domestic execution of the classic cured ham from Parma. The chanterelles and pimento peppers were from the Beaverton Farmers Market, the polenta from Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukie, OR, the pork from Carlton Farms in Carlton, and the wine for the sauce from Illahe Vineyards in Dallas, OR.
Pork Saltimbocca alla Romana alla Oregona
- 6 thin-cut boneless pork sirloin chops
- 1 bunch fresh sage leaves
- 8-10 thin slices of prosciutto
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) each: olive oil and unsalted butter
- 1 large shallot, minced
- ¾ pound (340 gr.) fresh chanterelle mushrooms or any fresh mushroom of your choice sliced or torn into attractive pieces
- 1 pimento or red bell pepper, sliced
- All-purpose flour for dusting pork rolls and thickening the sauce
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup (120 ml.) Illahe Temperanillo Dessert Wine*
- 2 cups (475 ml.) warm chicken stock
- 1 additional pat of unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml.) fresh lemon juice
* If you live in a wine-producing state, look for a sweet, fortified wine to use. If I tasted this dish in Italy, I would expect to find it prepared with Marsala wine.
- Place a chop on the right side of a sheet of plastic wrap large enough to fold over the chop and still contain it after pounding.
- Place several fresh sage leaves on the pounded chop.
- Cover the chop and sage leaves with prosciutto. I used about 1½ slices for each chop.
- Roll the chop up tightly and place on a plate or tray.
- You can prepare up to this point and keep refrigerated until ready to cook.
- In a sauté pan, heat one tablespoon each of the oil and butter over medium-high heat and begin sautéing the minced shallots, stirring until they soften.
- Add the chanterelles and continue sautéing until they soften and begin to wilt.
- Add the peppers and cook until they too soften but don’t lose their color.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add a cup (240 ml.) or so of all-purpose flour to a plate for dusting the rolls. Season with a little salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Gently roll the prepared chops in the flour, shake off any excess.
- Heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) each of the oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
- Place three of the rolls, seam side down, in the pan and sauté until browned. If they begin to unroll, hold in place with tongs until the pork begins firming up. I positioned some of mine next to the side of the pan to hold in place.
- Continue sautéing until evenly browned all over.
- Remove to a plate in a warm oven to keep warm and continue with the remainder of the rolls.
- De-glaze the pan with the wine while scraping the bottom of the pan to release all the brown caramelized bits.
- Sprinkle about 2 generous tablespoons (30+ ml.) all-purpose flour into the pan while whisking constantly to prevent the flour from lumping.
- Whisk constantly while allowing the flour to cook a bit, about 2 minutes or so.
- While continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the warm chicken stock, lower the heat to a simmer and allow to continue to thicken.
- It the sauce is too thick, whisk in a bit of warm water until right for you. If it’s too thin, slowly whisk in more flour.
- Whisk in the last pat of butter and then the lemon juice. The butter smooths out the sauce and the lemon juice adds a little brightness. I do this to many savory sauces.
- Add the sautéed mushroom mixture to the sauce and stir.
- Add the pork rolls to the pan, cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Plate or platter the rolls and cover with the sauce.
- Serve immediately.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities