Costolette di Vitello alla Guido Reni

Grilled Veal Chops Stuffed with Vegetables and Cheese

Guido Reni was the glory of seventeenth-century Bolognese painting, and the veal chop that borrows his name is, appropriately, one of the glories of Bolognese cooking art today. Grilled veal chops can be so good, but they can also be so dry. This recipe is a masterly solution to the problem. The chop is divided in half to obtain two slices of meat joined at one side only, where they meet the bone. The slices are flattened to the thinness of scaloppine. It is not difficult to prepare the chops yourself, following the directions in the recipe, but if you have an accommodating butcher, he can do it for you. Parboiled green beans, tomatoes, cheese, and basil are placed between the two flaps of the chop, which are then stitched together with toothpicks. They grill in no time, because the meat is so thin, and the fragrant, soft, moist stuffing does wonderful things for the veal.

Although they are best grilled—and most of all over a charcoal or wood fire—the chops can also be sautéed in a pan with butter and vegetable oil.

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Ingredients

  • 12 fresh, young green beans
  • Salt
  • 2 fresh, ripe, firm plum tomatoes
  • 4 veal rib chops, at least 1 inch thick
  • ¼ pound fontina or mozzarella, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 12 round toothpicks
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • A hot broiler, preferably charcoal

Method

  1. Trim both ends away from all the green beans and wash them in cold water. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt, and, when the water resumes boiling, drop in the green beans. Cook for just a few minutes and drain while the beans are still rather firm to the bite.
  2. Skin the tomatoes with a peeler, cut them lengthwise into ¼-inch-wide slices, and remove the seeds with the tip of a paring knife. Toss them in a strainer 2 or 3 times to shake off any juice.
  3. Cut the veal chops in half horizontally, stopping at the bone, obtaining from each 2 parallel slices of meat attached to 1 bone. Fold back one of the slices and pound the other one as thin as possible, moving the pounder outward from the bone. Turn the chop over, fold back the flattened slice, and pound the other one. Take care not to pound a hole through the meat. Repeat the operation with the other chops.
  4. Divide the tomatoes and cheese into 4 equal parts. Place 1 part of each in between the 2 halves of each chop together with a basil leaf, liberal grindings of pepper, and 3 green beans. No part of the stuffing must protrude beyond the edge of the chop, so cut the green beans and trim the cheese slices to fit if necessary.
  5. Seal the borders of the chops, skewering each chop with 3 round toothpicks.
  6. Brush olive oil on both sides of each chop.
  7. Place the chops on the hot grill. Cook for about 2 minutes on one side, sprinkle with salt, turn over, sprinkle the other side with salt, and cook for about 1 minute longer. Do not overcook because the thin slices of veal will dry out if overdone.

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