If you're looking for Valentine's Day dinner menu ideas, Escalope de Veau, sauce au vin Marsala should definitely be on your list. Veal steaks are slightly pounded, dredged in flour and pan-seared until golden. The real key to this dish is the rich and creamy garlic sauce made with Marsala wine. I know, garlic on Valentine's Day seems odd. But food that tastes great will set the mood, and what doesn't taste better with garlic?
I paired the veal with ratatouille, but if you'd prefer a starch, mashed sweet potatoes would make a great choice. The most important thing when preparing a romantic meal is to keep it simple. You don't want to spend the entire evening in the kitchen! Veal scallopini is a safe bet, brings the "wow" factor, and is delicious to boot.
** Note: I've gotten some questions about the thickness of the meat. In France, escalope de veau is usually at least 1-inch thick. I think that Americans are more familiar with the Italian version of the dish where the veal is pounded very thin.
Servings: 8 servings
8 veal breasts (about 2-½ pounds), boneless
1-½ tablespoons Kosher salt
1-½ teaspoons white pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 head roasted garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 (14-ounce) can veal stock (or beef stock), 1-3/4 cups
1/3 cup Marsala (or water)
1/3 cup heavy cream, up to ½ cup
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly shredded
Marinating the veal:
Rinse the steaks and pat them dry using paper towels.
Season the veal with salt, cayenne pepper and white pepper. Sprinkle with baking powder. Toss well. Place the veal in a large bowl or a sealable zip-top bag. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of Marsala wine. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the shallots and the sprig of rosemary and cook on heat high until slightly golden. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until soft and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the caramelized shallots and rosemary to a plate.
Pat the meat dry one more time using paper towels. Transfer one veal steak at a time onto a cutting board previously lined with a piece of plastic wrap. Place another piece of plastic wrap on top of the veal like a sandwich. Gently pound the meat using a meat tenderizer mallet to about 1-¼-inch thick. Using a fine mesh strainer, sprinkle some flour on both side of the steaks and shake off the excess flour.
In the same pan, add the rest of the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, pan-sear the veal for less than 2 minutes on each side until golden. You can pan-sear them 4 at a time, depending on the size of the pan (don't over-crowd the pan). Quickly transfer the veal scallopini to a platter. The veal will finish cooking in the sauce.
Making Marsala sauce:
In a bowl, squeeze out the softened garlic cloves from the roasted garlic. Add ¼ cup of water and the rest of the Marsala wine.
Add veal broth to the hot pan, bring to a boil and scrape the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon (called deglazing). Reduce (uncovered) the liquid to about half its quantity. Add the Marsala mixture, bring to a boil again and cook for about 2 minutes. Lower the heat to low. Add the cream (I added more for a thicker texture) and ¼ cup of parmesan, stirring continuously. Adjust seasoning of the sauce with salt and pepper. Add the reserved shallots, rosemary and veal scallopini. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Remove and discard the sprig of rosemary. Add flat-leaf parsley. Toss well. Check seasoning. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan. Cover and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
I paired it with ratatouille on the side. Serve warm.
I use veal breast, which is less expensive than loin steaks. I buy veal at the Middle Eastern market; it can be very expensive so if you want to lower the costs, you could use chicken breast instead but make sure to marinate de meat so it's moist and tender.
I used Marsala wine (an Italian wine liqueur) for this recipe but you could also use dry white wine or even water if you don't want to use alcohol.
Dredging the veal in flour keeps the moisture in and makes a golden outer crust. Once you add the flour, pan-sear the meat immediately. If you wait too long, the moisture from the meat will become glue-ey and soggy.
Making roasted garlic is fairly easy. Once the head of garlic is roasted, squeeze out the softened garlic cloves. If you use a terra cotta roaster for the garlic, it's preferable to add 2-3 tablespoons of water at the bottom of the roaster before covering it, for easy clean-up. Don't worry, the flavor will remain intact.
Baking powder is a great meat tenderizer. I got this trick from Tatie Danielle (aunt).
I added ½ cup of cream and about a cup of parmesan cheese. If you want to make it healthier, you could skip the cream and parmesan.