Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Humble Chicken Cutlet

Where can I start about this fried piece of chicken goodness.  Most Italians I know grew up eating chicken cutlets like most Southerners were raised on healthy portions of fried chicken.  I grew up eating cutlets, whether it was chicken, pork or veal.  My mother and grandmother often made them as the main course of a family meal and the left overs never lasted longer than a day or so.  As I have become older and more aware, I stopped eating veal.  But when my grandmother made veal cutlets I would eat them; she was the only person I would eat veal for.  Man, were those politically incorrect cutlets tasty.  In our home, the tradition of the chicken cutlet still exists, so much so that my chicken cutlets don't last much longer than the cutlets of my childhood.  My husband is especially fond of my cutlets and I had to beg him off this time from eating too many. I had planned on making a quick parmigiana and I needed left overs in order to do so.

The humble chicken cutlet is not only delicious, but it is also versatile.  It can be sliced for a salad, used as a meat in a sandwich (one of my favorite heroes is topped with chicken cutlet, roasted pepper and fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar) or can become the famous chicken parmigiana.  In our family, the favorite way to eat them is cold, right out of the fridge with maybe a napkin.

Now that I have a meat thermometer, I was able to fry this latest batch of cutlets with out mutilating them in the process.  I don't know how my mom or grandmother knew when the cutlets were cooked fully but I have never trusted my frying times. I would cut my cutlets to check to see if they were done.  After having pieces of raw chicken in a Ceasar salad while at Outback Steakhouse years ago (why I won't eat there to this day), I always check my chicken to see if it's fully cooked.  With the meat thermometer it only takes a poke. I found 160 degrees to be the perfect internal temperature for the cutlets to be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

I use chicken tenders for my cutlets.  But if you have a butcher, or if it is more cost effective to filet chicken breasts to cutlet size than so be it.  I definitely suggest you try making them, it will definitely be worth your while!  The best part is you get to make bread balls with the left over eggs and bread crumb, they are just as good as the cutlets and for me, they are the first thing I eat after spending 30 minutes standing in front of a hot stove frying cutlets.

Chicken Cutlet, sauteed green beans, bread ball and couscous
Chicken Cutlets
2 packs chicken tenders (about 3 lbs of chicken breast, filleted)
2 C (about) Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 C (about) grated cheese
3 eggs
3 TBSP milk
1 container vegetable oil
  • Take out three plates.  In one plate whisk the eggs and milk.  On the second plate combine grated cheese and bread crumbs.  The third plate is for the breaded chicken cutlets.
  • Bread the chicken cutlets by first dipping in the egg mixture and then into the bread crumbs.  Place breaded cutlet on third plate and bread all pieces of chicken.
  • In a large skillet, fill with oil til it is about an inch deep.  Heat oil on medium high heat.
  • Fry chicken cutlets about 3-4 minutes per side, til internal temperature is 160 degrees and both sides are golden brown.
  • Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Salt as soon as chicken is removed from the oil.
Bread Ball
Left over bread crumb mixture
Left over egg mixture
  • Combine bread crumb and egg til it forms into a dough like consistency.
  • Form into patty shape.
  • Fry after all cutlets are done, about 3-4 minutes.

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