“Try the VEAL, it’s the best in the City”.
One of the many memorable quotes from the movie “The Godfather
“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.
Great recipe and love the memories – I am a Calabrese/Brit and can relate so much to your memories (and the Godfather)!
The Godfather was a great movie, an icon in the movie industry. It does make you feel at home with the family since we relate to it so easily, especially the Italian dialects. Cut out the violent scenes that are enhanced by the media and you have a very realistic expression of Italian customs and traditions-Sicilian style. Too bad many people see it as a depiction of all Italians and their culture. This is a very distorted and narrow point of view. By the way, I love veal scaloppine.
We don’t know each other at all but I feel like we were neighbors. My family and yours must have shared an old building in Brooklyn. Your recipes have given me my heritage back. Some of these recipes are ones I grew up eating in my Grandmother’s kitchen. I have lost not only both sets of my Italian imigrant grandparents but recently both of my Italian American, Brooklyn native parents and these recipes have been healing to my soul! Thanks so much for taking the time to keep this blog going…and for taking me down memory lane!
It’s comments like yours that make writing and producing my blog worth it. It is a labor of love. I’m really glad it has touched you in the way it has. We all need a look back at our heritage from time to time. Thank you for taking the time to comment!
Just before leaving New York for our move to Florida we decided to go for a last meal at Angelo’s in Little Italy. We ordered all our favorites and since we were having so many dishes the chef made smaller orders of each for us. He came out to visit with us and I told him I would love to make Veal Scallopine with Marsala the way he did. So he said come in my kitchen and I’ll show you. I was in heaven! He explained it was easy for him because he had everything ready and all these little dishes of different ingredients. He went thru the whole thing and it is very similar to your recipe. When I told the rest of my family about this they said, “Only You”. We were treated like family that day in the restaurant and they gave us the name of a restaurant to visit in Miami and to tell them who sent us. Well we did and were treated royally there too. What a good memory you brought back.
I’ve been to Angelo’s in Little Italy. Good food there!
Great anecdote regarding the scene of Michael Corleone in the the Italian restaurant with the corrupt cop and the mafia capo (Solatzo??): After graduation from college I was involved in a nasty car accident that had me in a hospital for 2 months. The gentleman in the bed next to mine was the chef from Louis’s Restaurant on White Plains Road in the north Bronx where this scene was filmed. This was also after my mother had passed away, …so, when I left the hospital, at Chef Primo’s invitation, …my father, sister and I would go to Louis’s every Friday night and Primo would cook wonderful Italian meals for us. Wonderful memories.
I love your recipes. Like yourself, I have incredible memories of the foods that I grew up with. My mother was from Avelino (southern) and my father from Friuli (northern), and both were excellent cooks. Most of the foods you write about are very similar to the foods I grew up with. Since I now live in SW Montana getting fresh fish has become difficult, but we have the best grass fed Black Angus, pigs & lambs (as well as all sorts of wild game and trout) so cooking is still fun.
Thanks for the great recipes and memories.
Wow, that’s a great story Richard. Sorry you had to experience a terrible accident to meet Chef Primo, but things happen for a reason. I’m so glad you enjoy my blog. Thanks for following.