Veal Scallopini Piccata

I love veal scallopini served with almost any pan sauce, but my favorite is piccata. Whenever the wife and I eat at high-end restaurants, I usually order the veal picatta as a way to gauge the quality of the kitchen. But more times than not, I prefer my own version to the restaurant’s.

The worst veal scallopini piccata I’ve ever eaten was at an Italian restaurant in a strip mall on Woodruff Road in Greenville, SC. I was served a bowl of water-thin sauce that was composed of about 80% white wine. After timidly provoking the yellowish liquid with my spoon, I dredged up a few chunks of thickly sliced veal. They were more elastic than a popped balloon and about as tasty. Needless to say, I haven’t gone back.

There’s no authentic recipe for veal scallopini piccata, at least not as far as I know. I’m not a purist anyway. Nevertheless, there are a few steps in the cooking process that are essential. To begin with, you must pound the veal or else it’s not scallopini. Also, you need to dredge the cutlets in flour so the sauce will thicken. Finally, the sauce must include chicken broth, white wine, capers and lemon. The amounts may vary and people are free to add or substitute other ingredients. But if you stray too far from the basics, you’re not really making picatta anymore.

Here’s everything you need for my version of the dish:

Veal Scallopini Piccata

  • 4 veal cutlets, pounded thin (about a pound or less)
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ large lemon (or 1 small one), seeded and sliced into rounds
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • enough flour for dredging
  • salt & pepper to taste

I always try to buy pre-flattened cutlets. Veal can be pretty difficult to pound really thin. Your butcher probably has a machine like a pasta press he can run it through. Publix is good about selling pre-flattened veal cutlets that don’t need to be prepped beyond rinsing them off and patting them dry, but you pay for that convenience.

Season the scallopini with a little salt and pepper. Next, dredge them in flour and shake off the excess. Resist the urge to cut them into smaller pieces. They’ll shrink when cooking.

Heat two tablespoons each of olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is foaming, add the veal. Shake the pan at first so the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom. They cook really quickly. You’re really just browning them around the edges. You’ll add them back to the pan later to simmer with the sauce.

When the veal cutlets are nicely browned, remove them to a plate or cutting board. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and sauté for a couple of minutes until softened.

Add the white wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the bottom. Once it’s clean, add the chicken stock, lemon slices, capers, most of the parsley, and mix well. Reduce it by about half and then add the veal back to the pan. reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce just begins to coat the back of a spoon. Don’t cook it down too much or else it’ll get too sour (from the lemon and capers).

When the sauce is nicely thickened, remove and plate the veal. Take the pan off the heat and add the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Stir until the sauce is smooth. If you think the sauce tastes too sour, then add a little cream and maybe some more butter. Butter makes everything better.

Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the veal. Garnish with the lemon slices and the remaining parsley and serve immediately.

I really love this dish. As far as the cooking process goes, there’s not much difference between piccata, marsala, saltimbocca, et al. If you can cook one dish, you can cook them all. The wife’s not as fond of picatta as I am, but she humors me. I served this with some roasted eggplant and she cleaned her plate. That’s the real barometer for success around my house.

NOTE: I only cooked two cutlets but made enough sauce for four. I like my scallopini swimming. So don’t be surprised if you follow this recipe and don’t have as much sauce for your cutlets as I did in the picture. Typically, piccata sauce barely coats the veal, almost like butter spread on toast. It tastes great that way.

Veal Scallopini Piccata
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11 thoughts on “Veal Scallopini Piccata

  • November 13, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Nice recipe.easy & delicious.Add angel hair on the side, and Heaven!!


  • January 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Great instructions, not over produced dish, one of my favorites – this is the best picatta recipe yet. Thanks! Angel hair pasta is a natural with this recipe!

  • January 17, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Great…. even tried the pasta (had some left over) and it was great!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • January 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. It was easy to follow with clear, step by step directions and great pictures.
    Our veal was cooked no more than a minute on each side for the browning step, and about a minute and a half or two for the simmering step and it was deliciously tender and flavorful.
    Served it with steamed zuccini and baby carrots plus herbs, and microwaved ready to serve brown and wild rice and it was great.

  • March 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Nice — love the photos. There used to be a couple of nice places in downtown Greenville, but they may be gone now.

  • April 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Yum! I doubled the sauce as you suggested. Hubby loves veal and orders it out all the time so he was very happy with our dinner tonight! Thanks for sharing the pictures!!

  • May 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I am in the veal business. I just tried this receipt. Fabulous!!!!!!!

  • May 10, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I’m glad all of you have found this tutorial so helpful. There’s really not much to this kind of cooking; it’s basically just two or three parts stock to one part wine. Sometimes you add cream and butter, sometimes you don’t. Like I said before, if you can make this piccata recipe, then you can make marsala and saltimbocca. I’ll write down my versions of those recipes the next time I cook them for you all to try.

    Best wishes!

  • December 11, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Best step-by-step ever!! I always seem to mess something up with this dish. I will only refer to this recipe from now on. Thanks!

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