“Just consider the dish the Count was finishing at the very moment: a saltimbocca fashioned from necessity. In place of a cutlet of veal, Emile had pounded flat a breast of chicken. In place of prosciutto de Parma, he had shaved a Ukrainian ham. And in place of sage, that delicate leaf that binds the flavors together? He had opted for an herb that was as soft and aromatic as sage, but more bitter to the taste. . . It wasn’t basil or oregano, of that the Count was certain, but he had definitely encountered it somewhere before. . . “

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Scaloppine Saltimbocca | Recipe Review

One element that I enjoyed in the novel A Gentleman in Moscow was how Emile, the chef at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, created dishes living under the austere conditions of 1940s Russia. I wanted to try to cook one of these dishes, so I chose saltimbocca, a traditional Italian recipe. I found how to prepare this recipe in Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianichi.

Note: Scaloppine is a method of preparing your meat by pounding it until it’s ¼ of an inch thick.

Scaloppine Saltimbocca

Scaloppine Saltimbocca | Recipe Review
  • 2 pounds bunch spinach or two 10- ounce cellophane packages spinach
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 portions Veal, Chicken, Turkey, or Pork Scallopine
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 slices (about 2 ounces) imported Italian prosciutto
  • 8 to 12 large fresh sage leaves
  • All-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock


In the spirit of the novel, I substituted ham for the prosciutto. However, sage was far easier for me to acquire than what the chef of the Metropol used, which was nettle. While this scaloppine saltimbocca was an easy dish to prepare, it made an elegant presentation. This would be a great dish for a fancy night in.

Review by Heather