Fontina — the real thing, which has been made from raw cow’s milk in the alpine reaches of the Valle d’Aosta for eight or nine hundred years — is one of Italy’s great cheeses: aromatic, herbaceous, a little sweet. It also melts extremely well, and is used frequently in cooking, in its home region and beyond.
I first encountered this classic preparation one October almost 40 years ago at a little restaurant in the countryside near Saint-Vincent — I’ve long since forgotten its name — where slices of white truffle were added to the filling.
- 4 bone-in veal loin chops, 6-8 ounces each and about 1-inch thick
- 1/4 pound mature (firm) fontina, sliced thinly
- Salt and pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup toasted breadcrumbs, homemade or commercial
- 6-8 tablespoons clarified butter
With a sharp knife, carefully slice each veal chop in half horizontally to within ½ inch of the bone. Divide the cheese slices evenly between the chops, slipping them in between the halves. With a meat mallet or the bottom of a clean, flat-bottomed wine bottle, gently pound the edges of each chop together.
Season the chops generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Lightly beat the eggs in a shallow bowl, put the flour into a second shallow bowl, and put the breadcrumbs into a third bowl. Melt the butter in a frying pan large enough to hold all the chops over medium-high heat. One at a time, dredge the chops in the flour, dip them in the eggs, and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess each time. Add to the hot butter and fry, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side.
Reduce heat to low and cook, turning once, until tender and the cheese has melted, about 20 more minutes. Serve immediately.