from one generation to the next
Veal Parmagiana made an inglorious but memorable entrance into my family.
Late in 1964, my Dad spent six weeks in Milan on business. He came home with a recipe hand written in Italian on a scrap of paper. The wife of a colleague had served him Veal Parmagiana and he’d enjoyed it so much he’d asked for the recipe.
Dad was able to translate most of the ingredients but was baffled by “sugo di pomodoro”. At that time Dad’s workplace was located in inner Melbourne, home to a large migrant population from Italy, so before long he knew he needed rich Italian tomato sauce.
Dad was able to buy ready crumbed veal schnitzels, locally made Sugodoro sauce and Parmesan cheese at the Victoria Market. He translated prosciutto as ham, so cooked leg ham was sustituted. Dad then made Veal Parmagiana for us. My brother and I loved it, but Mum thought it “foreign.”
While Dad was shopping for ingredients to make us his Veal Parmagiana recipe, he had also bought a head of garlic, by no means a common ingredient in Melbourne in the 1960s. To this day, I remember the domestic uproar when Dad insisted on rubbing a cut clove on his grilled steak. He was forbidden from bringing Italian food into the house after that episode, but time took care of that and just a few years later, we were regularly eating spaghetti Bolognese.
Colloquially known as a “Parma” this dish has been reduced to cheap pub food in Australia, usually greasy deep fried crumbed chicken breast, poorly seasoned passata and oily processed cheese. However Veal Parmagiana made with good cut of meat, lightly crumbed, quickly pan fried then topped with paper thin prosciutto, well seasoned fresh tomato passata and parmagiano reggiano which has been flashed under the grill to brown is mouth wateringly delicious.
My Dad was a Cockney by birth. He clung to the rhyming slang and nonsense speak of his childhood, so Veal Parmagiana became known in our households “veal pyjamas”!!
4 large pieces of veal scallopini
1 egg, whisked with 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rice flour seasoned with sea salt and pepper
1 cup bread crumbs ( I used GF )
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use grapeseed oil)
4 thin slices of prosciutto
1 1/2 cups thick Italian style tomato sauce, well seasoned
1 cup finely grated Parmagiano Regginano
Lay the pieces of veal on a chopping board, cover with plastic wrap, then pound to an even thickness with a meat mallet.
Coat in flour, dip in egg wash then coat in breadcrumbs. Refrigerate until needed.
Warm the tomato sauce.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and quickly brown the crumbed veal. ( don’t worry if the veal is not cook through it will finish under the grill). Remove the veal to your grill pan, lay a slice of prosciutto on each, then top with a generous layer of warm tomato sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan on top.
Grill (broil) the Parmagiana until the cheese is browned. Serve immediately.