Pan-Roasted Veal with Pancetta and Sage

Arrosto di Vitello con Pancetta e Salvia

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as a main course

Appears in

One of the staples of northern Italian cooking is a pan roast of veal. I make this dish often, and it is always a success at dinner parties. Do not use too lean a cut, such as the top round. The shoulder or breast produces a much moister and more succulent roast. The breast may require some trimming, and if you use the shoulder, you should butterfly it (or ask the meat department if they’ll do it for you), so you have a wide thin piece that can be rolled with the pancetta.

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Total time from start to finish: about 2 hours


  • 2 pounds boneless veal breast or shoulder
  • 4 ounces pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 8 to 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine


  1. Trim any excess fat from the veal. Lay the meat on a flat surface with the fat side down. Place the pancetta and sage leaves on the meat, then roll the meat tightly. Tie with kitchen string at 1-inch intervals.
  2. Lightly crush and peel the garlic cloves. Put the oil, butter, and garlic in a heavy-bottomed braising pan and place it over medium-high heat. When the garlic cloves are lightly browned on all sides, remove and discard them.
  3. Put the meat in and brown it well on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and let it bubble rapidly for about 30 seconds to evaporate the alcohol, while stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat so that the wine simmers gently, cover the pot with the lid slightly askew, and cook until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork, 1½ to 2 hours. Turn the roast about every 20 minutes and, if all the liquid evaporates before the meat is tender, add a little water.
  4. Remove the veal from the pot, place it on a cutting board, and remove the string. Cut the roast into ¼-inch slices. If there is a lot of liquid left in the pan, turn the heat to high and let it boil until it is reduced and forms a sauce. If there is no liquid left, add a few tablespoons of water. Return the veal to the pan and turn the slices to coat with the sauce. Serve at once.


The roast can be made 2 to 3 days ahead of time. When ready to serve, slice it and reheat it in its sauce.