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Escalopes are very thin pieces of boneless meat which are often coated in breadcrumbs prior to cooking. Many different types of meat can be prepared in an escalope style, although veal, pork, and turkey are perhaps the most common choices. To prepare escalopes, the cook usually must pound or roll each meat fillet until it has been flattened significantly. While the term escalope is French in origin, escalope-style dishes are found in the cuisines of several European countries, particularly Italy and Austria.
A number of different meats can be used to create escalopes. Veal, turkey, and pork are commonly prepared in this way. Also sometimes used are other types of poultry, such as chicken or even ostrich, and various kinds of large fish, especially salmon. Traditionally, fish escalopes are cut in such a way that one side of the fillet remains edged with skin.
The preparation of escalopes can be somewhat labor intensive. Usually, the cook begins with meat fillets of normal thickness and then pounds or rolls each fillet using a meat mallet or a rolling pin until it has been flattened into a thin “sheet.” In many escalope recipes, these thin fillets are then dipped in beaten eggs or melted butter and coated with breadcrumbs, which may be seasoned to give the meat additional flavor. The escalopes are usually then pan-fried. Due to the meat’s thinness, it tends to cook very quickly, compensating somewhat for the long preparation time required.
Escalope is a French term, and dishes such as veal escalope are often associated with French cuisine. Several other European cuisines commonly feature meats which have been prepared in an escalope style, however. Italian dishes such as veal scaloppine and chicken piccata, for instance, feature thinly pounded meat fillets which have been breaded, fried, and dressed with flavorful sauces.
Austrian cooking also commonly utilizes the escalope technique, perhaps most notably in the dish known as Wiener Schnitzel. Traditional Wiener Schnitzel consists of a veal escalope which has been coated in a heavy breading and then fried. It is commonly served with a side of jam made from cranberries or lingonberries. Other meats, such as pork, are sometimes prepared in the Wiener Schnitzel style, but Austrian law dictates that these variations cannot be referred to as Wiener Schnitzel. Pork prepared in this style, for instance, must be referred to as Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein to distinguish it from normal veal Schnitzel.