In the Veal parm recipe, also known as Veal Parmesan, ingredients often bonded to traditional Italian cuisine are used, such as tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and ham, all covering a thin slice of breaded and crispy veal.
Although I have to admit that in seeing it prepared it seems to be a tasty and savory dish like many traditional Italian dishes, in reality, Veal Parmesan does not really exist in Italy.
In all my life as an Italian living in Italy, I assure you that I have never found in a single Italian restaurant a Veal Parmesan, nor have I ever eaten it at a friend or relative’s house.
To understand why this characteristic Italian-American dish is so well known and loved in the States but unknown in Italy, we need to go back to its origins.
Where does veal parm come from?
When Italians arrived in America, they found the expensive proteins of their homeland were far more affordable and accessible in the meat markets of the new world, these proteins included pork, beef, and of course veal.
These newly minted Italian-American home cooks not only devised unique dishes based on what was available, but also adhered existing recipes on the new world’s meat-centric menu, altering many classics into newfound creations, one of these creations was veal parmigiana.
The recipe from which Veal Parmesan was inspired is Parmigiana di Melanzane, an oven-baked dish of sliced eggplant arranged in layers with tomato sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, and shredded mozzarella.
The urge to replace eggplant with a breaded, crispy slice of veal must have given rise to the first Veal Parmesan in the kitchen of some Italian immigrant, the end result was in fact very different from the classic Parmigiana di Melanzane.
Originating in the Italian neighborhoods along the east coast, veal or chicken parmigiana eventually spread to restaurants and published cookbooks of the 1950s. Before long, the dish was everywhere, even appearing on menus at restaurants that were decidedly not Italian.
But by then Veal Parm was everywhere, and its misnomer as an Italian recipe had been created.
Certainly, Veal Parmesan is not an authentic Italian dish, it is simply one of the most famous and mouth-watering Italian American dishes, created in the States by Italian immigrants who adapted their cuisine to local ingredients, which is why you will not find Italian restaurants in Italy serving a Veal Parmesan.
Which Italian dish is similar to veal parmigiana?
Although the recipe for Veal Parm was distantly inspired by the recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana, this being an eggplant-based recipe does not resemble the taste of Veal Parm at all, it is simply a completely different recipe.
If I were to find an Italian recipe very similar to Veal Parm, I would probably tell you to try these dishes that are all Veal-based with other ingredients, such as cheese and tomato:
Do Italians eat veal?
Yes, Italians eat veal, although it is not the number one meat in terms of consumption. Chicken meat remains by far the most consumed meat by Italians, even in 2021: followed by beef, pork, and finally veal.
Do Italians put tomato sauce on veal?
In Italian cuisine, tomato and tomato sauce is one of those ingredients that you can pair with practically anything, even veal.
In fact, while there is no such thing as Veal Parm in the Italian tradition, there are other recipes that similarly combine tomato sauce with sliced veal, one being the recipe for veal cutlets pizzaiola.
Do Italians put cheese on veal?
While there is no recipe for Veal Parmesan in Italy, we do have some recipes that call for veal with melted cheese on top.
For example Veal Scaloppine with cheese and ham, Veal rolls with cheese inside, and Valdostana Veal Cutlet. In each case the cheese that is paired with veal is often fontina, rarely mozzarella since it is too liquid cheese; parmesan cheese is not often paired with veal either since it does not melt.
Do Italians eat pasta and veal parmesan together?
Eating pasta together with a piece of meat is something that never happens in Italy, even more so if it is Veal Parm with pasta, as the Veal Parmesan recipe does not exist in Italy. In any case, if it did exist, being veal-based it would be a second course, unlike pasta, which is the first course, they would never be served together so.
There is Veal Parm Sandwich in Italy?
No, you will not find Veal Parm Sandwiches in Italy. But you will be able to find sandwiches with Cotoletta Milanese inside, that is, a breaded and fried veal cutlet.