Vitello di Etna

Vitello di Etna

Mount Etna is the only active volcano in Europe. It is near the Eastern Coast on the island of Sicily.  I recall once going to the market with my Uncle Salvatore and asking him if we were buying beef. I would say “vaca” (cow) and he had no patience for my broken Italian and quickly reprimanded me saying (in the Italian dialect of Sicilian) “there is no beef, there are no cows, Sicily is too small, we only have veal here!” I was sure never to make that mistake again and memorize the word for veal in Italian.

This particular recipe was adapted from one I never forgot from the 1990s.  We were in Newark and I ordered Vitello di Sicilia. It was a very thin fried veal cutlet served with fresh red bell peppers, roasted red peppers, and hot cherry peppers.  There are not many dishes I can remember from 25 years ago, but this was one of them.

This recipe I adapted from that dish. I am not a big fan of bell peppers, they don’t always agree with me. Roasted peppers are fine, but they are sweet and this dish calls for a lot of fire.  You can add or remove as many hot cherry peppers as you like.  If you use more than one red or green cherry pepper, you are masochistic, in a good way. I like the red ones better, and I use about three, but my eyes were tearing and my sinus cleared out almost instantly.  Proceed with caution.

B&G is the brand I like. There are many, and unfortunately they all have some sort of preservatives or additives, even if natural.  But these are key because they are packed in vinegar.  Unless you are willing to take the time to hunt down cherry peppers fresh then marinate in vinegar, this is the way to go.

  • 1/3 lb of very thin veal cutlets, pound out to make thinner
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • Tablespoon finely chopped shallot (about half a shallot)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Bread crumbs
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Large Egg
  • Flour
  • 1oz. Capers
  • Hot Cherry Peppers (about 2, one of each color, red, green, slice thin, remove stems and seeds)

Make the veal cutlets the way you normally would.  Pound them thin, dredge in flour, then beaten egg, the in the mixture of breadcrumbs, grated cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley. Dust off any excess, put into a hot pan of olive oil and sliced garlic.  These cook very quickly because they are so thin.  Maybe a minute or two on each side. They should be golden brown.  Don’t worry if you think they are not cooked all the way through, because you are going to have to continue to cook them later for the sauce. Place on a  clean plate of paper towels so excess oil is absorbed.

In another pan add capers before the pan is hot so they heat gradually and do not splatter.  Add in olive oil, a dab of butter, salt, pepper, garlic and shallots.  Once it is bubbling, remove the pan from the stove and slowly add in half a cup or one glass of dry red wine. It can be Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, whatever you prefer.  Allow most of the wine to cook off, you don’t want it to be thick like syrup, but not so thin that all the alcohol is still there and you are drinking your dinner. Add the veal into the pan, toss in the cherry peppers and put a lid on it until the veal is heated up, about 5 minutes. Remove the veal, put on a plate, pour all the sauce with peppers and capers over it and serve as is, with rice, or even capellini pasta with a simple cherry tomato and olive oil sauce.

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