Little squares of browned veal, topped with slivers of garlic that have been cooked until nutty and crisp and spiked with chilli, is an old Biuso family favourite. To ring the changes, I’ve coated the veal in breadcrumbs and parmesan, but you can omit this step if you prefer.
500g (a good pound) veal scaloppine
4 Tbsp plain flour mixed with ½ tsp salt
2 medium (size 6) free-range eggs, beaten with ¼ tsp salt
½ cup fine dry breadcrumbs, or use panko crumbs
3 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese (or use grano padano)
1 Tbsp olive oil
3–4 Tbsp butter
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced, or use several cloves young garlic
4–6 tiny dried ‘Bird’s Eye’ chillies, crushed
This is named after an Italian restaurant that flourished in the 1980s and ’90s in Auckland’s Karangahape Road. It wasn’t famous just for its food – a fair bit of carousing went down, as well as dancing on the tables at midnight and general chaos and disorder. I loved it! I’ve made this dish various ways over the years, with both pork and chicken, and here I coat the veal pieces in cheesy crumbs and serve them sizzling and golden. Panko crumbs given a brief whizz to make them finer are ideal for crumbing the schnitzel.
1 Prepare meat as described below in Scaloppine Preparation. Cut each slice into 2-3 pieces. Mix parmesan cheese, ¼ tsp salt and breadcrumbs or panko. Dust meat with flour, then pass through beaten egg. Let excess egg drip off, then coat with the cheesy crumbs. (I usually put the crumbs and the flour on sheets of kitchen paper which makes for an easy tidy-up.)
2 Heat oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat and drop in 2-3 tablespoons of butter. Drop in meat pieces once the butter starts sizzling and cook until golden on both sides. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt. If necessary, add more butter to the pan before cooking the rest of the meat.
3 Add a little more butter to the pan and when melted, add the garlic and chillies. Cook until garlic is pale golden in colour and fragrant. Immediately spoon buttery chilli mixture over meat and serve.
Scaloppine is the Italian name for the thin slices of white veal cut from a single muscle off the top leg of the animal. In France, the same cut is known as an escalope. In English the names scallop and schnitzel are used, but not scallopini, which is the name for small star-shaped squash. Piccata, coming from the verb picchiare, meaning beaten, is another Italian name used for this cut.
It is essential that the scaloppine be cut from a single muscle from the top of the leg (called the top round) and that the meat be cut across the grain. If the meat is cut with the grain it will shrivel up on cooking and be tough to eat. The slices of veal then need to be lightly flattened with a meat mallet to make them uniformly thin. Do not bash the meat, as it easily tears and turns to shreds. Cover the meat with a clean plastic bag or waxed paper, and apply a gentle pressure with the mallet, sliding it along the surface of the meat as you do so. This stretches the meat without damaging the tissues.
Photography Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com