Veal Cutlets, 1950's-Style

Makes 4 Servings
Time: 30 minutes

Before we "discovered" boneless chicken breasts, thin slices of veal cut from the leg-called cutlets, scallops, or scallopine-were the only thin, tender, boneless meat widely available. But veal was expensive, and remains so. Still, veal does have a different texture and flavor than chicken breasts, and good veal cutlets are still wonderful sautéed in olive oil and drenched in lemon juice. You can make this recipe with thinly pounded chicken or turkey cutlets, or with any thin-sliced pork.

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced veal, from the leg (scallopine)
1/4 cup olive oil, or a little more
Flour for dredging
Plain bread crumbs for dredging
2 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1 lemon, cut into quarters

1. The cutlets should be less than 1/4 inch thick; if they're not, pound them gently (I use a flat rolling pin, but you can use the back of a skillet or a wine bottle) between two sheets of waxed paper.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat while you set out the flour and bread crumbs on plates and beat the eggs lightly in a small bowl. Season the flour liberally with salt and pepper.

3. When the oil is good and hot (a pinch of flour will sizzle), dredge the cutlets, one at a time, in the flour, then dip in the egg, then dredge in the bread crumbs. Add them to the skillet as they're ready. Cook them over heat high enough to make the oil bubble; don't crowd. Cook in batches if necessary, adding additional oil as needed. Set the oven at 200°F.

4. Turn the cutlets as they brown, then cook the other side. The total cooking time should be 5 minutes or less. As each piece is done, remove it to an ovenproof platter; place the platter in the oven.

5. When all the veal is finished, pour off the fat. Return the skillet to the stove and add the wine, over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the wine is just about evaporated. Add the lemon juice, stir, and pour this sauce (there won't be more than a few tablespoons) over the veal. Garnish and serve, passing lemon quarters at the table.

Veal Cutlets with Rosemary and Parmesan
Here, you can skip the flour-and-egg treatment and dredge directly in a bread crumb-Parmesan mixture; the results will be very good. Combine 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, and some salt and pepper in a bowl. In Step 3, dredge in flour and egg if you like, or omit this step. In any case, finish by dredging the cutlets in the bread crumb-Parmesan mixture. Proceed as above, skipping Step 5 and serving the veal with lemon quarters as soon as it's cooked.