I didn’t know that these breaded cutlets–usually served with a squeeze of fresh lemon–were called Milanese Cutlets. Often they are made with veal cutlets but as they say in “Father of the Bride” (one of my favorite movies), “I want the cheaper chicken.” My method of making these simple cutlets cuts down on the calories as well as cholesterol.
First, you’ll want to start with thin cutlets. If you don’t have them, be sure to read about Butterflying or Fileting Chicken Breasts. Using uniformly thin cutlets allow them to cook more quickly and evenly.
Once the cutlets are ready, I get two pasta bowls or pie plates ready, one with an egg WHITE…
Most recipes for breaded cutlets say to dip them in flour, then in a whole beaten egg, and then crumbs. But we prefer a lighter version and so just use an egg white, so there’s no cholesterol or calories from the egg. The egg white actually just dampens the cutlet so the crumbs stick to it but the breading isn’t heavy. Just a nice little crunchy coating. I used just one egg white for all six cutlets…just to give you an idea of how many egg whites you’ll need. I like to season a bit at every level of cooking, so I shake a bit of salt into the egg white.
In the second pie plate I put about one cup of dry bread crumbs. We can’t buy Panko crumbs in Italy…but I know they’re all the rage in the U.S. and I’m sure you can use those if you prefer. Otherwise, just regular bread crumbs are fine.
To the crumbs I add some Parmesan cheese…maybe about 1/4 C. Yes, the stuff in the green can is OK but freshly grated is even better. Besides, they don’t have those green cans of Parmesan here in Italy. They also don’t sell seasoned crumbs here in Italy so I usually add a bit of dried parsley and basil, as well as a shake of salt.
Now, we’re ready to go…each cutlet gets dipped in the egg white…which of course you can’t see since it’s completely clear…and then into the crumbs.
It’s a messy job, even when I try to use a fork! I can never quite decide if the fork should be used in the egg whites–where it gets wet and then crumbs stick to it, or just in the crumbs…but then my fingers get all yucked up with the egg whites. So I just bite the bullet and do the whole thing by hand and then wash off my fingers. Then, the lightly breaded cutlet is set in a pan with 1-2 T. olive oil and 1-2 T. butter. You don’t have to use the butter but it helps the cutlets brown better. Make sure the pan is nice and hot, though not smoking, when you add the cutlets.
Because the cutlets are thin, you only have to cook them 5-7 minutes per side…just lift up the edge occasonally to see how they’re browning. Flip them over once they’re brown. You may have to add a bit more oil or butter if the pan is dry once you flip them over. I don’t like to use too much, but from experience I can tell you that dry crumbs do not get nice and brown. They stay dry. So comfort yourself in knowing that at least they’re not deep fried!
While they’re browning, I’ll cook up my vegetable and throw a salad together, and voila! In about 30 minutes I have supper on the table.
Yield: Serves 6
- 6 chicken filet cutlets or butterflied cutlets
- 1 C. dry breadcrumbs, seasoned with parsley, basil, salt and Parmesan
- 1 egg white, or a whole egg if you prefer, seasoned with salt
- 1-2 T. olive oil
- 1-2 T. butter
- Prepare two pie plates or pasta bowls:1) One with an egg white beaten with a little salt (or use the whole egg if you prefer) 2) The other with the bread seasoned bread crumbs with Parmesan
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, but not smoking, add the cutlets, dipped first in the egg white and then in the crumbs.
- Cook for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned; flip them over and brown on the other side. You may need to add a bit more oil or butter for the second side if the pan is too dry.
- Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired.
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