Primo’s Saltimbocca

“Melissa’s grandfather Primo ate the Saltimbocca on a regular basis—his favorite dish, in fact— and the one dish Melissa never takes off the menu, for this reason.“Pork loin pounded thin, sautéed, served on a tall bed of garlic mashed potatoes with a sage Madeira shiitake sauce and a garnish of shaved Parma ham on top. The way Primo liked to eat it.”

Primo’s Saltimbocca as described in the story of Melissa Kelly’s Primo Restaurant in Rockland, Maine, in The Reach of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman.

Made me hungry, so I assembled the ingredients.

Here’s what I did:

Pounded two boneless pork loin chops thin



For the sauce:
Trimed six shiitake mushrooms,
Fried ten sage leaves in olive oil, removed and reserved on a paper towel,
Sauteed the shiitakes in the same pan and oil until they give up their water,
Chopped the sage leaves and shiitakes fine and reserved.
Fried the pork,
Deglazed the pan with the shiitake mixture and maderia and added a bit of butter to thicken.

Meanwhile, I made the my favorite garlic mashed potatoes and a sautéed cabbage dish to accompany. Perhaps broccoli would have been a better accompaniment; it certainly would have looked better.

The Saltimbocca was served “on a tall bed of garlic mashed potatoes” with a slice of Prosciutto di Parma ham on top.

This made a good dinner. I’m sure that at Primo, in the skilled hands of Melissa and in the Primo environment, the dish is special.


“Melissa’s food is home cooking food that emphasizes the best possible vegetables, meats, dairy, and fish, simply prepared. It’s served in a house on a hill. To enter it, guests walk across a front porch, through a foyer, and into a vestibule whose main feature is a staircase leading up. There are three small dining rooms on the ground floor. Upstairs is a small bar (your best chance to eat at Primo in the summer if you don’t have a reservation), a small dining room that has a more bistrolike feel to it, and an open room that serves as a private dining room for up to 14 people. Servers descend via a back stairway that leads to the kitchen. The hallways and doorways, the molding, the tongue-and-groove floors, the staircases all kind of whisper Home. The servers and cooks, they all work in a house, not a building, and this has its own impact. Service is casual, and the relationship between the servers and the cooks is not just cordial, it’s family-like, as much as front and back of the house can be, anyway.”

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