batali’s sicilian grilled veal rolls

May 21st, 2008 · 30 Comments

when i first read this recipe in ‘molto italiano’, batali’s introductory words to the dish included the sentence, "as i get older i am liking simpler things – based on the best ingredients", the letters jumped off the page and italian-kissed me firmly on the lips – with feeling.  and then i fell in love with mario all over again, and i knew this dish would be mine.  because i suppose i can’t have mario.  not that i think i’d necessarily want mario – although he sure would be one helluva entertaining guy to be around on a regular basis.  and breakfast in bed would surely rock… that is if cary would just move over a smidge.

but getting back to reality, you look at this ingredient list and the way it all comes together and the next thing you know, you’re thinking, not only can i make this with ease, but i will be a rock star.  maybe not in the bono category but definitely, michael stipes.

(these rolls are too close together, which is another way of saying i made a mistake…)

except for one thing.  because if you think that skewering the rosemary through these babies (how true a word if there ever was one) was easy, you are so wrong that you don’t even know how wrong you are. and for the record, this rosemary was not of the flimsy kind.  it was branchy rosemary.  and still the rolls needed to first get punctured with metal skewers – and only then could the rosemary travel the distance.  mario fails to mention this, probably because either he’s not the skewer’er and/or the veal from my calf could’ve kicked the veal from his calf’s ass.  i’m telling you, we had some seemingly tough veal.  because i swear we pounded the meat as thin as could be, but once they’re all rolled up… well, all i’m saying is that until we arrived at a viable technique it was a struggle – and i don’t think that in the end, it even imparted much flavor.  it was just a cool presentation factor…

but – that’s all merely a technical difficulty, right?  the true integrity of this dish was not breached in any way. 

involtini alla siciliana
adapted from
‘molte italiano’ by mario batali

i made the executive decision to toast the pine nuts.  mario, does not mention this at all.  listen to mario or listen to me.  the choice is yours.  this is america and you are a free citiizen, although probably in debt.

8 slices veal top round, about 4 oz each
1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped italian parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts – toasted
1/4 cup dried currants soaked in warm water 1 hour, drained
8 sprigs of woody rosemary about 5 inches long
salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil

preheat the grill
using a mallet, pound each slice of veal between 2 oiled pieces of tin foil to 1/16", careful not to tear the meat
lay each piece out on a work surface
in a medium bowl, stir together the pecorino, bread crumbs, parsley, pine nuts and currants
season the meat and divide the mixture among the veal, spreading it out thinly
roll each piece up tightly, starting from a short side and secure with toothpicks
lay 2 veal rolls side by side, about 1/2" apart and skewer with the rosemary
repeat to make 3 more sets of veal
season with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil
grill turning once for 3 to 4 minutes a side until nicely charred but still medium
serve immediately with something green

it’s a great dinner party dish. assemble earlier in the day and then grill quickly just before everyone sits down.  i served the veal rolls with grilled lemony, garlicky asparagus. it was an overall hit, but you know how it goes in the world of blogging… doubtful to ever be seen again.


Tags: veal

30 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Robert // May 21, 2008 at 9:36 pm


    Very nice. This would make a believer out of the most ardent Lamb skeptic. I am inspired.

  • 2 claudia // May 21, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    i get it, robert
    i get it
    verrrrry funny…

  • 3 Diana // May 21, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I hope you have a California king…

  • 4 Vincent // May 21, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    I’ve been grilling for a month now due to beautiful weather. Since my son saw me reading this post he reminded me we haven’t an involtini or skewer on the gill yet this season so we will make some this weekend. I add about 2 tbsp of lemon zest (microplane) to the breadcrumb mixture, esp if you are to leave it sit for a few hours – the citrus loves the veal, man.

    Also picked up his new book for the grill – love the seafood recipes in it.

  • 5 Simply...Gluten-free // May 21, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    The older I get the simpler I like as well! This looks delish!

  • 6 Nina // May 21, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Oh, this looks delicious even at 5 in the morning.

  • 7 evil chef mom // May 21, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    the simpler the better. i would have totally screwed up the rosemary, that’s the problem with mario, it looks simple BUT there’s always a catch.

  • 8 Marc @ No Recipes // May 22, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Oooo yum I love me some involtini.

  • 9 Stephanie // May 22, 2008 at 12:40 am

    All that work for little flavor pay off? But it does look ever so pretty…and I don’t care, I think Mario is the love of my life. He just doesn’t know it yet.

  • 10 Peter // May 22, 2008 at 6:43 am

    Some might think the rosemary skewers are just for decor but the herb actually does penetrate whatever it’s piercing…I can smell it now!

  • 11 Lynn // May 22, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Oh how beautiful! I love veal, but secretly.

    Too many people have given me the stink eye about eating babies.

  • 12 claudia // May 22, 2008 at 9:51 am

    diana – i think with mario the regular kind would be better. we need width not length. and i know how that sounds and i don’t care.

    vincent – the addition of lemon zest sounds perfect. i’ll bet you make a mean breakfast in bed too…

    simply gluten free – i hear ya, sistah. i live by that rule 95% of the time.

    nina – 5am/5pm – i’ll eat anything whenever. foie gras for breakfast? sign me up.

    evil chef mom – that’s what separates the real cooks from well, me…

    marc – me too… and the possibilities are endless

    stephanie – mario is the king. but i want bourdain… in the biblical kinda way.

    peter – no real sign of it as it’s a short cooking process – and it passes through one small spot!

    lynn – i was the same but now i am totally out about loving veal… they’re raised to be slaughtered. let’s just keep it as humane and natural as possible.
    and honor the food… always.

  • 13 Mary Coleman // May 22, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    how fab does that look! big fat wow!
    i’m over the baby thing myself. it took your osso buco recipe to throw me over the edge.

  • 14 NOBLE PIG // May 22, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Wow this does look easy but so yummy too…what a winner..I must, must try to make this.

  • 15 michelle @ TNS // May 22, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    this looks very tasty, albeit very pointy and somewhat dangerous.

  • 16 claudia // May 22, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    mary – baby schmaby – and i prefer cow babies over human babies anyday – but that’s just me. afterall you’re not allowed to eat human babies, right?

    noble pig – you must, you must!

    michelle – reminds me of the old bazooka comic strip… “it hurts my eye when i drink coffee… – well then, take out the spoon” probably before your time – but whateva… i’m ancient.

  • 17 Kevin // May 22, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    That looks so good. Asparagus and veal rolls sound like nice light and tasty meal!

  • 18 Claudia // May 22, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    WELL, FINE FOR YOU. It looks and probably tastes fantastic, but in Hawaii we can’t even buy veal. Unless you’re a big restaurant with big orders. Safeway used to get it occasionally, but no more. I guess we can’t have everything?

  • 19 democommie // May 22, 2008 at 9:07 pm


    For the decoration: I might just find a sailmaker’s awl ( a biggish curved needle with a large eye) and a piece of that chicken tusking cord. Push the needle through the veal and tie the cord around a sprig or two of rosemary (bent double) and pull it through.

    As for flavor. Fresh, tender rosemary, minced and mixed with a little garlic and that there lemon zest in some nice olive oil, slathered on the veal before rolling it would, I think, impart some nice flavor.

  • 20 Brittany // May 22, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    I spent most of the time while reading your post trying to decide weather or not I would do Batali.
    I ultimatley decided that no, I would not. The ponytail and shorts would turn me right off.
    However, if he made me this meal (and toasted the f’ing pine nuts), It might put me in a food-horny state and would reconsider.

  • 21 canarygirl // May 23, 2008 at 4:42 am

    Oh my goodness! These look incredible…succulent and wonderful! *giggle* about the uncooperative rosemary sprigs.

  • 22 diva // May 23, 2008 at 5:36 am

    oooh. lookss yummy. great presentation too!

  • 23 Peter // May 23, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Why stop at a threesome with Mario? The Rachael Ray also has excellent taste in trousers.

  • 24 We Are Never Full // May 23, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Wow. This is awesome. This is why I love Batali… he is SMART and he is still one of the only chefs who was on the food network who actually was a teacher. He taught us about the culture and the history of the food of Italy. I don’t ever get sick of him.
    What’s also weird is I just happened to be biting my nails (nasty, i know) when the picture of your dish appeared on the screen and I felt like I had smell-o-vision. I had just touched my rosemary plant and the smell was still on my fingers. It was a very bizarre thing.

    mmmmm. and peter is hot for ray-ray… he’s told me. and he thinks she looks hot in her tight, front fat, camel-toe jeans.

  • 25 Hillary // May 23, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I love the presentation on these! Very pretty.

  • 26 Lauren // May 23, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    yummy! i gotta say, it looks very professional. like dinner out, but at your house. when can i come for dinner?

  • 27 Heather // May 23, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Damn Claudia, that is one sexy dish. What would you serve that with, a creamy polenta? Simply gorgeous.

  • 28 christey // May 23, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    oh god yum! i do love veal. like a whole lot. and i suppose i should feel guilty? i dunno.

    peter, my hubby, not greek peter ;), won’t eat it. will make veal stock and demi-glace from it, but only from bones sold at the store. (he was a veggie eater in college and that is all that is left from those days) so i can only hope to get this meal if you *HINT HINT* cook it, mail it to me, and i can re-heat. 😀
    but man oh man i would.

  • 29 matt wright // May 26, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    These look beyond awesome – great job – even if two were too close together 😀

  • 30 Jose // Jun 5, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I would love to make these but veal is so expensive. i think I might try them with chicken or even beef. And yes, I agree about M.Batali. That chef is one of the very best.

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