I think it’s safe to say that chicken is pretty much the most popular protein consumed by American families for dinner. The chicken-veggie-starch combo is pretty ubiquitous and is actually one that I don’t exactly like. Mostly because I don’t really like white meat chicken and I find cooking chicken breasts to be a bit of a pain– I am always worried about undercooking the meat and find that with the uneven thickness of the chicken breast, the outside gets a bit “well done” while the inside of the chicken is not always quite done enough.
But! Chicken cutlets are a different thing entirely. By cutting and pounding the chicken to an even thickness, you can ensure even cooking, and you don’t have to cook it for nearly as long as an entire chicken breast. Both Jessica and I have waxed poetic about our love of panko breadcrumbs already, and here they make an appearance again.
Served with a lemony arugula salad (arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper), this is one of my favorite meals. But this time, I added a veggie + starch for that perfect dinner trifecta. Also, this chicken milanese would make an excellent base for chicken parmesan– substitute it for the eggplant in this recipe. Take your ordinary chicken breast and make this dish.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Zest from half a lemon, optional
4 chicken breasts, halved lengthwise and lightly pounded to 1/4-inch thick (or use cutlets)
Extra-virgin olive oil and/or canola, for frying
1 tablespoon butter
Lemon wedges, for serving, optional
Set up a standard breading procedure in 3 wide deep plates. Fill 1 with flour, 1 with the beaten eggs, and 1 with the panko, grated Parmigiano, and lemon zest, if using. Season the chicken breasts with salt. Using one hand for dry things and 1 hand for wet things, take each piece of chicken through the breading procedure: dredge lightly in the flour, then the egg wash and then through the bread crumbs. Lay the breaded chicken on a sheet tray and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Pour olive oil and/or canola oil into a large saute pan until it reaches a thickness of about a half an inch – better a little more rather than a little less. Bring to a medium-high heat and add butter. Test the oil by flicking flour or bread crumbs into the oil. If it doesn’t sizzle– WAIT! When the oil is hot, test it again by dipping the edge of a piece of chicken into the oil, the oil should gently sizzle. Cook the chicken in the oil in batches on both sides until it is a lovely golden brown color and is crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Do not crowd the pan or the chicken will become very greasy and soggy. When the chicken comes out of the oil lay it on paper towels to drain off the excess oil and sprinkle with salt. You can keep the chicken in a low (250 degree) oven to keep it warm while the rest of the chicken is cooking. Serve warm and top with a squeeze of lemon if you’re into that sort of thing.