Listarelle di Vitello con Cetriolini e Peperoni Rossi

Veal Scaloppine Strips with Cucumber Pickles and Red Peppers

This is a dish I discovered unexpectedly near Siena at the end of a long, hard business day. My husband and I had been in meetings for hours, working on a project that, as we had feared, never came to life, and we couldn’t have been more dispirited. We had accepted our host’s invitation to dine at a country restaurant he warmly recommended, although I was so tired I didn’t think I could eat. We were in Tuscany, so we declined the cook’s offer of homemade pasta, settling instead for a platter of home-cured prosciutto and salami, to be followed by a veal dish we were urged not to miss. I did not record the name of the cook, and the place I cannot remember either, but I do still remember the sparkling, immediately uplifting flavor of the veal, cut into narrow strips thin as scaloppine, sautéed and sauced with pickles, young onions, peppers, and cream. As I revived and shrugged away the frustrations of the day, I reflected on the magic power of good cooking to restore hope and on the benevolence of a Providence that has put such magic into the hands of so many plain people.

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Ingredients

  • 2 large or 3 medium sweet red bell peppers
  • ½ pound scallions
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound veal scaloppine, cut into rectangular strips about 2 by 4 inches
  • 1 cup flour, spread on a plate
  • ¼ cup cornichons or similar cucumber pickles, cut lengthwise into slices less than ¼ inch thick
  • cup heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder

Method

  1. Peel the peppers using a swivel-action peeler (see technique). Split them, remove the core and seeds, and cut them lengthwise into strips about ½ inch wide.
  2. Cut the scallions in half lengthwise and then into pieces about 2 inches long. Wash in cold water and drain.
  3. Choose a lidded sauté pan large enough to accommodate later all the peppers and the meat. Put into it 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the scallions, turn on the heat to medium low, and cover. Stir from time to time.
  4. Add the strips of pepper to the scallions in the pan. Continue to cook in the covered pan, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender.
  5. Uncover the pan, turn up the heat to high, and cook for a few moments longer while quickly stirring the contents of the pan.
  6. Transfer the scallions and peppers to a dish, using a slotted spoon or spatula, and add the remaining olive oil to the pan, keeping the heat at high.
  7. Dredge the veal strips in flour on both sides and, when the oil is hot, put as much of the meat in the pan as will fit without overlapping.
  8. Cook the meat for a few seconds on each side, without letting it brown too much because it will become overcooked. Transfer to a dish and do the next batch of meat, repeating the operation until all the meat is done.
  9. Put the scallions and peppers back in the pan, reduce the heat to medium high, and add the pickles. Stir once or twice, then add the cream. Cook the cream down, stirring frequently, until it is no longer runny.
  10. Return the meat to the pan, add salt and a few grindings of pepper, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring all the contents of the pan thoroughly. Transfer to a warm serving platter and serve at once.

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