I’ve made this dish, with both chicken and veal, many a time, but somehow it’s never made its way onto the blog. It had been a really long time since we’d had saltimbocca, and I had some sage to use up, so it was the first dish that came to my mind.
“Saltimbocca” is Italian for “jumps in the mouth.” It’s traditionally veal, but can also be made with chicken, and I’ve even made it with pork tenderloin cutlets. The thin-cut meat is dredged in flour, topped with sage and prosciutto, and cooked in the skillet. Then, a simple pan sauce is made from wine. It’s incredibly easy to prepare and fast to make. Cutlets only take about 2-3 minutes to cook per side, so it’s likely that your side dishes (mashed potatoes and summer squash, in our case) will take longer to make than the chicken. The result is a dish that is incredibly flavorful. It has a nice salty bite from the crisped-up prosciutto, herbaciousiness from the sage leaves, and a little bit of sweetness from the vermouth pan sauce.
Before I started using this recipe, I always left the sage leaves whole under the prosciutto, which worked fine, but could sometimes turn out to be a little too sage-y. This method of chopping the sage not only makes sure you have a tiny bit in every bite, but it’s also not overpowering. There is also the optional step of quickly frying off a few sage leaves in the oil in the beginning. I like to do this (and also add a clove of garlic) because it gives a little extra sage flavor to the completed dish and, of course, you have some pretty garnishes.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
3 Tbsp. all purpose flour
2 thin-cut chicken cutlets (about 4-5 oz. each) or chicken breast halves, pounded to about 1/4″ thickness.
1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage + 4 whole leaves (optional)
2 thin slices of prosciutto, cut to match chicken chicken (about 2 oz.)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, lightly smashed
2/3 cup dry vermouth or white wine
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cold butter
1/2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper
Combine flour with salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1/8 tsp. salt) in a shallow dish. Pat the cutlets dry with a paper towel and then dredge in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Lay the cutlets flat and sprinkle each with the sage. Place a slice (or slices, depending how they are shaped) of prosciutto onto each cutlet and press lightly to adhere. (I actually like doing this by using the flat side of a meat mallet and tapping lightly.)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add sage leaves (if using) and garlic. Cook until sage leaves begin to change color and are fragrant, 15-20 seconds. Remove the sage with a slotted spoon.
Add the cutlets to the pan, prosciutto-side down, and cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. (This is also typically when I remove and discard the garlic.) Flip and cook on other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove the chicken and keep warm.
If there is any excess fat in the skillet, pour it off. Stir in the vermouth, scraping up the browned bits, and simmer until it’s reduced to about 3-4 Tbsp. Stir in lemon juice.
Turn heat down to low, and whisk in the butter. Off the heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over cutlets before serving.