Uccelli Scappati Con Polenta

Birds Escaped, a traditional dish consisting of skewers of meat rolls wrapped in bacon; “escaped” because there aren’t really any birds in the dish.


6 veal escalopes, 150g (5½oz) each
6 thin slices prosciutto
12 sage leaves
250g (9oz) pancetta in one piece (or streaky bacon, if unavailable)
30g (1oz) melted butter

How to make the Uccelli Scappati Con Polenta:

Uccelli scappati means ‘escaped birds’: individual ‘birds’ are cut free from a cage shape. Although you need a little work in the preparation, having all the meat in a piece makes the cooking part a doddle. You will need six 20cm (8in) skewers.

Bat out the veal into rectangles approximately 18cm by 10cm (7in by 4in). Season them with salt and pepper, lay a slice of prosciutto on top of each escalope and then two sage leaves on top. Roll up the combination into a cylinder – with the escalope on the outside – making six cylinders about 18cm (7in) long and 2cm (4/5 in) in diameter. Cut the pancetta into cubes about 2cm (4/5 in) square and thread one down to each of the six skewers’ bases. Lay the six rolls of veal side by side on a board so that the long sides are touching, to form a thick rectangle, and thread the skewers at regular intervals through each. You will now have a kind of grid, with the skewers creating the warp and the rolls of veal the weft. Anchor each skewer at the end with a second cube of pancetta.

Grill the meat over a gentle fire – either towards the edge of the coals or on a high rack – for eight minutes on each side, brushing the cooked side with a little butter. Then lay the piece on a board and cut down between the skewers to make six separate portions with a long sharp knife.

Serves 6

Regional recipe from Friuli and Lombardy

Enrico Massetti was born in Milan, Italy.
Now he lives in Washington, DC, USA.
Still, he regularly visits his hometown
and enjoys going around all the places in his home country
especially those he can reach by public transportation.

Enrico loves writing guide books on travel in Italy
to help his friends that go to Italy to visit
and enjoy his old home country.
He also publishes books on the Argentine tango dance.

You can reach Enrico at enricomassetti@msn.com.