Sunday, 23 January 2011

New Series : Italian Classics

I'm sure it's been done before, but there's no harm in my posting a mini series about the Italian classics. It is after all my forte, my work and after all these years still the most fascinating cuisine for me.
Time and time again, you can find me in the restaurant kitchen at the end of the night with my Italian food dictionary out. I scribble away as ideas leap out of the pages and images of Italy are evoked by the sensory descriptions of what each region does with their ingredients. I long for the different foods to be in season and in front of me at that very moment so that I might recreate some of my visions.
This week I've been thinking about what to grow in the restaurant courtyard garden and in a few months time, maybe I'll have some of these lovely ingredients to play around with at last.

It seems fitting that the for the first installment, I present a Saltimbocca recipe. It is the only recipe in Italy that is made the same up and down the country. In 1962, deep in the heart of Venice, it became the only main course recipe in Italian cuisine whose recipe has been officially approved and laid down. So no changes okay!

Saltimbocca alla Romana is traditionally made with veal escalopes. For want of a good rose veal supplier in Hereford, we use chicken and it works very well indeed. So if like us, you decide to make your Saltimbocca with a different meat, I'll understand and won't rush to report you to the Italian food police!

Saltimbocca (serves 1)

1 thick slice of Parma ham, cut in half
1 free range chicken breast
4 fresh sage leaves
1tbsp vegetable oil
50g butter
100ml white wine
lightly seasoned flour for dusting the meat

On a clean board use a large knife to cut the chicken breast in half horizontally.
Place the fresh sage leaves on top of the two halves, followed by the Parma ham.
Use a cocktail stick to fasten the ham to the chicken.
Dust in the seasoned flour.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook both sides of the chicken over a medium heat until golden and the Parma ham has begun to crisp.
Pour the wine over, being careful of a stray flame leaping up if you're cooking on gas, and simmer the chicken for a few minutes each side to cook through.
 Check that the chicken has cooked before turning the heat up to high and letting the sauce reduce and thicken.
Serve immediately with your choice of vegetables and potatoes or even polenta to help mop up the rich, flavoursome sauce.


  1. Alice, this look delicious. This is my first visit to your blog and I've spent some time browsing through your earlier entries. I really like the food and recipes you feature here. I'll definitely be back. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  2. I don't think I've ever tried this. It looks so good, maybe I'll try and make it here sometime.

  3. Looks delicious! I don't eat Italian food often enough and have not tried making them at home too, but I do love Italian food!

  4. Ooo, that looks really amazing...well-plated and I'm sure delicious.

  5. FArei la felicità di casa!
    Un abbraccio e buonissima giornata

  6. Italian cuisine is my absolute favourite..., so happy to read your doing a little series on it..., can't wait for the next installment. This one is a true classic, haven't made it for ages, but think I will again soon. Thanks for sharing :)