Classic Veal Parm Sandwich
It's funny, while I was away, I was making these seriously epic BBQ sandwiches and I live for them... BUT, sometimes I want two things: I want to cook outside AND, I want a proper Italian sangweech. So even though I used the BBQ to make the Veal Parm Sandwich– I mean sangweech, really, I was using my BBQ to be a heat source vs give my traditional veal parm a smoked element twist. As an Italian-Canadian chef, I feel like it’s my duty to finally share my recipe for the absolute best way to make a veal parm sandwich. It is so simple to make, but really depends on using the best and freshest ingredients possible - You need great veal, great bread, great cheese and great sauce.
There are two main components of the veal parm sandwich: the sauce and the meat. The sauce is super simple and takes just three ingredients, onion, garlic and tomato passata. Tomato passata is just the Italian way of saying tomato puree and is made from 100% pureed and strained tomatoes, sometimes a little salt, but no other additives or spices, just the pure stuff. The flavour comes from the fresh onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh basil and the time it takes for the sauce to slowly cook, reduce and all the flavours to mix and meld. If you like spice, you can even add chilli flakes to your sauce but just keep in mind this makes it spicy for everyone. I feel the smarter move is to just add chillies in oil to your sandwich specifically.
The veal is also super easy to make. You don’t have to get all crazy with pounding the veal cutlets super thin, but you definitely don’t want to skip the step of tenderizing the meat before it’s cooked. If you can, try to use white veal (it's actually pink in colour) vs red veal. White veal is milk fed and has less of a beefy taste and is incredibly tender. All that you need to do is salt the cutlet and use a fork to score the meat against the grain. Once you’ve done this to both sides of the cutlet, set up your breading station with a bowl of flour, a bowl of beaten eggs and a bowl of seasoned breadcrumbs. Bread and fry the cutlets and once golden and crispy, transfer over to the tomato sauce to cook some more and absorb all the delicious flavours. I use fresh mozzarella – it makes a difference - and grated parmesan and melt it on top of the veal cutlets to get that cheesy goodness.
Of course, the only acceptable vessel for this sandwich is a Kaiser bun and I like to toast mine a bit on the bbq. The crustier the bread, the better job it does holding in all that sauce. Before assembling I spread some chili oil on the bun to add some spice that goes perfectly well with the veal. I then pile on the veal cutlets with the sauce and melted mozzarella cheese, close up the sandwich and wrap it in parchment paper and cut it in half to get that old school sandwich shop feel. It really is such a simple sandwich when you break it down, but it is packed full of flavour, the ultimate comfort food sandwich. Keep reading to find out how to make my Veal Parm Sandwich or click here to jump to the full recipe.
The three main components of your sauce are onion, garlic and tomato passata. In your cast iron pan, placed right on your bbq, you're going to heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and once hot, add in your chopped onion and garlic. Keep it moving so the garlic doesn't burn. My pro tip here, is to empty out the jar of passata into a bowl or large measuring cup and then add water to the jar, shake it up and pour a bit of the passata water into the pan with the garlic and onion, and mix. You want all of the liquid to get absorbed and the garlic and onion to soften up.
Next, you're going to add in your passata to the pan. Pour the remaining passata water in the jar into the bowl or measuring cup you were using to make sure to get any residual passata off the sides. Pour in the rest of the passata water into the pan.
While the sauce is cooking, prepare your veal cutlets. You want to use thin cutlets for this sandwich and you definitely don't want to skip the step of tenderizing your meat. I don't like to go all crazy with a mallet and pound out the cutlets, I prefer to use salt and a fork. I kid you not. It's super simple. Place your cutlet down on a plate or some parchment paper. Salt the first side, and using the tongs of a fork, gently score the meat against the grain. Make sure to do this to the whole cutlet, and then flip it over and repeat on the other side.
In a large pan, add in your canola oil and preheat. In three separate shallow bowls, add your all-purpose flour, beaten eggs and seasoned breadcrumbs. Start by dipping your veal cutlet into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. I suggest using tongs so your hands don't become breaded too. Once all your cutlets are floured, egged and covered in breadcrumbs, add to the oil.
Fry the breaded veal cutlets on each side until the exterior is a nice golden brown and crisps up.
Add your veal cutlets into the pan on the bbq, making sure the cutlets are covered by the sauce. Let it cook for about ten minutes.
In the meantime, while the veal cutlets cook in the sauce, finely chop some fresh basil and slice your fresh mozzarella cheese into rounds. Add a layer of the mozzarella cheese on top of the veal, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Close the top of the bbq and let the cheese melt.
To assemble, take your kaiser buns and cut them in half. I like to put them on the top deck of the bbq to get them a little toasted. Then, I add chili oil to both sides of the bun, which adds some spice and brings out the flavour of the veal in such a delicious way.
Since my cutlets were too long, I cut mine in half and placed each piece on top of each other, piling it onto my kaiser bun with the delicious sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.
Look at this beauty of a sandwich. And now for the full recipe...
Classic Veal Parm Sandwich Makes
Makes 2-3 sandwiches
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total time: 1.3 hours
For the sauce:
½ large onion
4 cloves garlic
1 jar tomato passada
For the veal:
3-4 3oz veal cutlets
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups seasoned breadcrumbs
1 ball Fresh mozzarella
Grated parmesan cheese
Canola oil for frying
Hot chili oil
2-3 round Kaiser buns
How to make it:
First thing to do is to chop your garlic. Start to mince the garlic and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt to help to create a paste as you continue to mince. Next, finely chop half an onion.
Place your cast iron pan on the bbq and add in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Close the top and turn up the heat, allowing your pan and the oil to come to temperature slowly as the bbq starts to heat up. Once your oil is hot, add in your onions and stir for one to two minutes, then add in the garlic, making sure to keep it moving in the pan so it doesn’t burn.
While the onion and garlic cooks, empty your jar of passata sauce into a bowl or large measuring cup. The jar should have a bit of sauce left in it. Add a bit of water to the jar and shake around so the sauce from the sides of the jar mix into the water. Pour about one to two tablespoons of the passata water into your pan. Keep stirring your onion and garlic with the passata water until the liquid is absorbed and the onion and garlic have softened.
Once the onions and garlic are translucent and soft, add in the passata sauce. Using the passata water from the jar, pour it into your bowl or measuring cup, picking up any residual sauce on the sides of the cup, and then add it all to the pan. Add salt and stir. Close the bbq and let the sauce cook.
Next, it’s time to prepare the veal cutlets. You want the veal cutlets to be quite thin, but no need to pound it to death, just sprinkle it with salt and use the tongs of a fork to score the cutlet against the grain on both sides.
Heat about an inch, inch and a half, of canola oil in a frying pan. Set up a dredge station to bread your veal cutlets. One bowl has your all-purpose flour, in the second bowl beat your eggs, and the third bowl has your seasoned breadcrumbs. Using tongs, dip your first veal cutlet into the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the veal cutlets. Once your oil is hot, add the breaded cutlets to the pan and allow to cook on each side about three to four minutes, until the outside is a nice golden colour and starts to crisp. Squeeze half a lemon over the veal. Transfer the cutlets into your cast iron with the sauce and make sure they are submerged in the sauce and let it cook for about ten minutes. Add your sliced fresh mozzarella and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Close the bbq and allow for it to all cook and the cheese to melt. Meanwhile, thinly chop your fresh basil and sprinkle over the cutlets in the pan.
To assemble, slice your Kaiser bun in half and place on the bbq to toast, ideally on the upper deck, if your bbq has one. Once toasted, place the buns open on a plate or cutting board. If you like spice, spread your chili oil on both sides of the bun. My cutlet was too long, so I cut it in half to fit in the bun, stacking each half on top of each other, and then closed the bun. Place your sandwich on a piece of parchment paper, fold it over your sandwich, tuck in the sides and roll. Use a serrated knife to cut it in half, and there you have it: the perfect Veal Parm Sandwich.
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