“Try the VEAL, it’s the best in the City”.
“Leave the gun, take the cannoli”, another one of my favorites.
The year was 1972 and the movie The Godfather was all the rage in the neighborhood. I could remember hearing my friend Robert Di Mauro talking about the movie before I saw it. He was excited and talking about the realism in the opening wedding scene, with the singing of “Cella Luna” and everyone dancing the tarantella. It was like watching a family wedding we were all familiar with. I could have sworn the old man they led up on the stage to sing Cella Luna was my grandfather! He would sing and dance just like that. What also rang true was hearing the characters speak the Sicilian dialect that I was very familiar with. We all saw someone we knew in that film. You could “smell the spaghetti”. Luca Brasi reminded me of my uncle’s brother-in-law, Sebastiano. I guess that is what set apart The Godfather from all the other gangster films before it. We all knew the families, the people, the characters. The Godfather showed the darker side of my Sicilian heritage, which was certainly not the dominant side of what Italians contributed to this country. But I think it was the realism and characters that we related to. In a sense, it was like watching a home movie…for the most part.
I was 18 years old when it first premiered at the Loew’s Oriental on 86th Street and 18th Avenue, Brooklyn. The line for the Saturday night showing was wrapped around the block. I couldn’t believe it. The only time I remember standing on line to see a movie that wrapped around the block was at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. Back then we would see a movie and the Christmas show for a buck and a quarter. I remember my grandfather would cut in line, and then bring the rest of the family in with him. What nerve! But, that was my grandfather.
At the Loew’s Oriental we went to the back of the line. The people in my neighborhood were not that forgiving. We wanted to see the movie, not get into a war. The Loew’s Oriental was one of the last majestic movie theatres I remember in Brooklyn. This was a time when they only showed one movie at a time in the theatres, not the tenplexes that are around today. Eventually they broke up the Loew’s and made it a multi theatre complex, but in 1972 it was still grand. I saw Godfather II at the Loew’s theatre as well. It created the same buzz. Godfather III? They should have never made it.
Like the Godfather movies, veal scaloppine Marsala is a real Italian classic. I’m not sure if this is the dish that Captain McCluskey ate for his last meal before Michael Corleone put a bullet through his head, but it very well could have been.
Marsala wine originates from the town of Marsala, which is a seaport city in the Province of Trapani on the Island of Sicily. This is the source of Marsala wine. Veal scaloppine Marsala is a very simple dish to prepare, but like most good Italian food, it’s not really complicated. Try and get a good quality veal from your butcher and a good quality Marsala wine. You can’t go wrong with that. Enjoy!
Veal Scaloppine Marsala
- 8 ounces veal cutlets or thin sliced chicken or pork
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup Marsala
- 1/2 to 1 cup beef broth or stock
- salt and pepper to taste
Place the cutlets between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a kitchen mallet till it’s 1/4 inch thin. This will spread out the cutlet as well. Cut it into the portion sizes you prefer. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet melt t tablespoon of butter and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium high heat. Do not touch the mushrooms for at least 5 minutes. Don’t stir, don’t touch. They will brown much better that way.
After 5 minutes give them a stir and leave another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the mushrooms to a platter.
Add the remaining butter and olive oil. Spread the flour on a flat place. When the butter is melted dip the scaloppine into the flour, coating both sides. Shake off excess flour and lay the slices in the pan.
Cook the veal until browned on each side, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the slices to the plate with the mushrooms. Repeat with the remaining veal.
When all of the veal is browned remove from pan and add to the plate with the mushrooms.
Add the Marsala to the skillet. Then add 1/2 cup beef broth. Cook, stirring up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until the wine is reduced, about 1 minuet.
Return the veal and mushrooms to the pan. Cook briefly, turning the veal in the sauce.
This will also thicken the sauce. Cook till sauce is thickened. Taste for salt.