Mastering The Scaloppine Method

Photo by Dave Wallis, Forum News Service

This week we’re going to expand upon one of our favorite culinary techniques: preparing meat in the scaloppine style. Scaloppine is an Italian term for a dish featuring cutlets of meat, or “scallops”, which are pounded thin, then dredged in flour and sautéed. In other words, it’s a fancy term for an easy technique that, when mastered, will vastly improve your culinary repertoire.

Tony and I love the scaloppine technique in large part for its ease and versatility. As a chef, Tony appreciates the quick cooking time that this method allows, and the assurance that the final product will be tender. As a home cook, I like the many choices available when it comes to preparing scaloppine.

Veal Marsala and Chicken Piccata are two examples of popular scaloppine dishes, but many recipes also feature pork, beef, turkey and even fish. Veal isn’t easily available in our region, so we often substitute pork tenderloin with great results.

In our October 18 column in The Forum, we serve scaloppine of chicken with a savory and delicious Butternut Bleu Cheese Sauce, which is a perfect complement for the tender chicken cutlets. For more great scaloppine recipes, be sure to check out the list at the end of this post.

To create scallopine, you will need a meat tenderizer (also called a meat mallet), a cutting board, a sharp knife and the meat of your choice – for this dish, we use boneless, skinless split chicken breasts which we then slice in half, cross-section (horizontally).

When using other meats like pork tenderloin or beef, cut the meat into medallions before starting – for guidelines, view the Scaloppine Quick Facts posted below. Next, place the meat on a cutting board and use the spiked side of your meat tenderizer to evenly pound the meat into thin pieces, about a ¼-inch to 1/8-inch in thickness.

In the beginning you may wish to place the cutlet of meat between two pieces of plastic wrap when pounding it out, until you get the feel of the technique. This will help prevent the meat from tearing.

Before frying, we dredge the chicken cutlets our scaloppine of chicken in flour, shaking off any excess. We fry the cutlets in vegetable oil over medium-high heat, turning several times until golden brown on both sides, about five to six minutes total. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil before serving.

To serve, layer the cutlets on a platter or serving plate and top with the Butternut Bleu Cheese Sauce.

To practice this technique, check out these other great scaloppine recipes:

Butternut Bleu Cheese Chicken Scaloppine
Sicily Chicken / Chicken Parmigiana

Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin
Scaloppine of Pork Piccata
Scaloppine of Pork Pizzaiola
Scaloppine of Pork Saltimbocca
Stuffed Turkey Breast
Pork Braciole
Pollo Tricolore (stuffed chicken breast)

SCALOPPINE QUICK FACTS

Scaloppine:  Sautéed cutlets (usually veal or poultry) that have been pounded thin and coated with flour

Chicken – Slice the boneless, split chicken breast in half horizontally and pound it to approx.1/8 inch thickness

Pork – Cut the tenderloin into 4-5 oz. medallions and pound to approx.1/8 inch thickness

Veal/Beef – Cut veal top round or steaks into 4-5 oz. medallions and pound to approx. 1/8 inch thickness or even thinner.

With your meat tenderizer, use the side with the small spikes to pound the meat, switching from one side to the other, until you reach the desired thickness.  This process will ensure that your meat is not only tender but will cook as quickly as possible. In the beginning you may wish to place the cutlet of meat between two pieces of plastic wrap when pounding it out, until you get the feel of the technique. This will help prevent the meat from tearing.