Several years ago, Dan and I were lucky enough to take an amazing trip to Italy with my parents, who were lucky enough to have been there a couple of times prior to our trip, and graciously showed us the ropes. One of my parents’ favorite destinations in Italy (and now our favorite as well) is the Island of Capri. Capri is an amazing place, and we strongly suggest you go there if you get the opportunity. If you do find yourself so fortunate to be on Capri, we highly recommend the restaurant Villa Verde , which provided the inspiration for this dish. We had a version of lemon veal at Villa Verde on our first night in Italy, and it was heaven on a plate. Exhaustion from our travels and giddiness about actually being in Italy may have factored into our fondness for Villa Verde and this dish, but we love our home-cooked version just as much. This year, for the first time ever, we were able to make our Lemon Veal with our own homegrown lemon, which made it even more special.
Our trip to Italy was inspiring in a lot of ways, one of which was to attempt to grow our own lemons. There are lemon trees all over Capri and the nearby (by boat) town of Sorrento. We visited a beautiful lemon grove in Sorrento that was almost surreal. We strolled through canopies of dark green leaves from delicate branches bearing green and yellow fruit, with the subtle scent of citrus wafting through the air — all in the middle of a bustling downtown scene.
A couple of weekends after we returned home from Italy, we bought our first lemon tree, which (sadly) has failed to produce any viable fruit. So this Spring we bought another lemon tree, which already had a baby lemon or two on it. Both of our trees are Meyer lemon trees. They bloom in the Spring, then produce fruit that look like limes until about October. They look so much like limes that you may be convinced that you actually bought a lime tree (not necessarily a bad thing, but we wanted lemons, dammit!) Be patient and they will eventually turn into pretty pretty lemons that remind you of Capri and deserve to be turned into sauce for delicious veal.
The ingredients for our Lemon Veal are very simple — veal scallopini (thinly-cut veal), olive oil, butter, flour, white wine and lemon.
You can tell the Meyer lemon is ready to pick when it reaches this golden / sun / sunflower / yellow-y color. It should look like the (completely un-edited) picture above. We Googled “ripe Meyer lemon” and found pictures of ripe ones so we knew which one of ours to pick.
We decided to do a taste test to find out whether the Meyer lemon (0n the left) tasted better than the lemons found at the grocery store (puny specimen on the right). Yes, this is another picture and commentary about the lemon. Remember I said that the lemon tree blooms in Spring, but doesn’t yield usable lemons until Fall. In Texas, that means we’ve been tending to and staring at this stupid tree and its limes lemons for the last 7-8 months. So we figured the first recipe using our very first lemon should spotlight the lemon.
****Spoiler alert*** The Meyer lemon tasted way better than the store-bought lemon — much sweeter and the lemon itself seemed more juicy.
While obsessing about the lemons, heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat until the butter starts to brown.
Even though veal scallopini is already pretty thin, you want to pound it out a little more, until it reaches about 1/8 of an inch of thickness.
Add salt and pepper to the flour for dredging the veal. “Dredging The Veal” could be the name of our band, or a way to give the veal a little bit of coating to hold the buttery, lemon-y sauce.
Butter and olive oil heated and ready for the veal.
Lightly dredge the veal with the flour mixture. (“Lightly Dredged” might also be a good band name).
Brown the veal for a couple of minutes on each side. It cooks quickly because it is so thin. If you are cooking veal for a lot of people, you’ll want to brown the pieces in batches. Each piece should cook flat and evenly in the olive oil and butter.
These veal pieces are almost ready to turn.
Each side should be browned similar to the picture above.
Once the veal is browned on both sides, remove the pieces from the pan and place them on a plate. If you are doing multiple batches, place the plate of cooked veal in a warm oven. Otherwise, tent the plate with foil to keep the pieces warm while you prepare the sauce.
De-glaze the pan with a little white wine.
Scrape up any of the browned bits to add flavor to the sauce.
Add about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to the sauce. Because this was a naturally sweet Meyer lemon, we did not add any sugar. If you’re using a lemon from the grocery store, you may want to add about a teaspoon of sugar or other sweetener to the lemon juice. Just taste it and add sweetness until the lemon juice doesn’t cause citrus sour-face.
Next, turn down the heat to low and add about a tablespoon of butter. Swirl the butter around the sauce until it melts.
Add the veal and any accumulated juices back to the pan and coat the veal with the sauce.
We served our (Meyer) Lemon Veal with Dan’s delicious “pasta fresca.” Buon Appetito!
P.S. If you ever do go to Capri (and you should!), Hotel La Minerva is a wonderful place to stay. Tell them Bill & Judy sent you…
P.P.S. This post was in no way sponsored by Villa Verde or Hotel La Minerva. But if either of these fine institutions would like to facilitate our next trip to Italy, by all means contact us via blog comment, email, twitter, cell phone, direct mail or pigeon.
- 1/2 to 2/3 pound of veal scallopini (approximately 4 pieces)
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 & 1/2 tablespoon butter (divided)
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoons white wine
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (with 1 tsp sugar stirred into it, depending on the sweetness of the lemon)
Pound veal until about 1/8 inch thick. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1/2 tablespoon butter and olive oil.
Add about 3/4 cup of flour to a plate and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge both sides of each piece of veal in the flour, then shake off any excess. When the butter is melted and hot, add the veal to the pan and cook until barely browned on both sides, about two minutes per side. Remove veal to a plate and either tent with foil or place in a warm oven.
Return the pan to medium high heat and add the white wine. Deglaze the skillet for a few minutes until the wine is reduced by half, scraping up any browned bits from the pan into the wine. Add the lemon juice and sugar mixture and heat for 1 minute. Turn the burner to low, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir into the sauce as it melts. Taste the sauce and add salt & pepper if necessary. Return the veal and any accumulated juices to the pan, coating the veal in the sauce and heating over low heat for a few minutes to reheat the veal. Serve, and think of Italy, fondly.