Tuesday, March 5, 2013

4 Tips for Making Italian Breaded Chicken Cutlets from Cleo Coyle




Cleo Coyle, who likes to 
pound keyboards as well as 
cutlets, is author of The 
The skinless, boneless chicken cutlet is one of the most user-friendly ingredients for whipping up a quick, tasty meal. Slap it on a crusty roll and you've got the perfect hot sandwich. Add mashed potatoes and gravy, and you have the easiest fried chicken dinner imaginable. Grate mozzarella and Parmesan over the top, add a splash of red sauce, a glass of wine, and you'll be singing Rossini.



No matter how you choose to finish these babies, you'll want to start things off right, and today I'm happy to share my tips for making the perfect, golden chicken cutlet, the kind that delights with a crunch of breading on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness on the inside...


Tip 1 - Give the bird a whack: It’s not enough to start with fresh, thin sliced chicken breast fillets, you need to give each breast a blow (or three) with the business end of a meat hammer for the kind of tender cutlet that you can cut with a spoon. 

Tip 2 - Spice up your breading: Some cooks use panko and that’s a nice way to go. But I prefer the traditional flour, egg, bread crumb coating with a twist. Start with your favorite brand of Italian seasoned bread crumbs and boost that  flavor with additional ingredients. I add grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and dried herbs (see recipe). Optional red pepper flakes nicely spice things up for those days when I want a little heat with my meat.



Tip 3 - Oil temperature is key: If you start with oil that's too cold, your chicken will absorb too much grease and the breading may be soggy. If your oil is too hot, your chicken will burn on the outside and be raw in the center. Wait for the oil to ripple and then test it carefully by adding a few drops of water into the pan. If the water "dances" on the oil, it's ready. See the recipe below for more tips on frying.


Tip 4 - Finish with freshness: Nothing tops off a perfectly sautéed chicken cutlet like fresh squeezed lemon juice. It's also a delicious finisher for side dish vegetables like dorati e fritti zucchini (for my recipe, click here) or broccoli rabe (for my recipe, click here).






Broccoli Rabe 

Click the photo for a
free PDF of the recipe ->





(aka "dorati e fritti")


Click the photo for a free PDF of the recipe ->



And...



Cleo Coyle’s 
Chicken Cutlets

Ingredients:

1 ½ - 2 pounds boneless breast fillets, sliced thin (about 9 cutlets)

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 large eggs, beaten + 1 teaspoon water or milk

2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried parsley (if you like rosemary add, as well)

1 Tablespoon grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese


Dash of garlic powder or red pepper flakes (optional)

olive oil or vegetable oil (at least 1/4 cup, see directions for more info)

1 lemon sliced thin

Directions:

Step 1 - Prep the fillets: Rinse fillets in cold water. One at a time, place the fillets on a clean, flat surface. Using the tenderizing (spiky) end of a meat hammer, whack the breast a few times to flatten it even more, then flip it and repeat. Dredge each breast well in all-purpose flour and set aside on a plate.

Step 2 - Prep the breading: Pour the Italian seasoned bread crumbs into a shallow bowl, pie plate, or cake pan, and boost the flavor by adding the oregano, dried parsley, grated cheese, and (optional) rosemary, garlic powder, and/or red pepper flakes. Whisk until blended.

Step 3 - Coat the chicken: Crack the eggs into another shallow bowl or pie pan and whisk to blend, adding a teaspoon of water or milk to thin the mixture a bit. Now dredge each flour-coated breast into the beaten egg mixture, coating both sides of the chicken fillet. Allow excess to drip off and transfer to the seasoned breading. Coat both sides of each fillet completely with the breading. Allow excess breading to fall away. Keep the breaded fillets in a single layer. (I use flat plates or a sheet pan.)

Step 4 - Cook and finish: Place a large skillet over medium heat and pour in oil until it reaches the depth of about 1/2 inch. When the oil is rippling and a drop of water dances on it, you're ready to cook. Don't crowd the pan. The more fillets you place into the oil, the more you are reducing the oil's temperature and risking a greasy, soggy end.

Once the chicken hits the oil, saute two to three minutes. This is (admittedly) a tricky endeavor. You may need to decrease the heat a bit if the chicken is cooking too quickly or increase it if the oil's temp. is dropping too fast. 


When the chicken is golden brown, flip it. Cook on the other side for another two to three minutes. Hold finished cutlets in warm (200 degree F.) oven while you cook additional batches. If you're cooking multiple batches, the oil will need to be replaced. When it becomes brown or full of crumbs, pour it out, wipe the pan and start with new oil.

Just before serving (and not too early or the chicken will become soggy) squeeze on some fresh lemon juice, and eat with joy!







And read with joy, too!


Congratulations to my fellow crime-writing cook, Mary Jane Maffini, who is celebrating the release of her new mystery today, THE CHRISTIE CURSE, which launches a brand new series that she's writing in collaboration with her daughter Victoria under the name Victoria Abbott. To find our more about Mary Jane, her terrific new series, and the other wonderful books she writes, click here


Congratulations, Victoria and MJ!






~ Cleo Coyle 

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries



Friend me on facebook here
Follow me on twitter here.
Visit my online coffeehouse here.



To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.
 








The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes.  

 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

10 comments:

  1. Oh Cleo, the cutlets look amazing. And so do all the veggies:). I am glad to have these tips because I'm never happy with the way mine turn out. There are a lot of little things to do right!

    Congratulations to MJ and her lovely daughter!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lucy, your basic breaded chicken cutlet is one of my favorite comfort foods and a great save-the-day meal for a busy schedule. Plus pounding those babies is a great stress reliever. :) And...

      Yes, indeed ~ Congrats to MJ and her daughter on the publication of The Christie Curse, not only the release of a new book but the launch of a new series and new collaboration. Brava!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  2. Those cutlets do look fantastic. My husband is out of town (again) and will be home tomorrow. He loves these cutlets in all ways, so all I have to decide is how to make them, and you've shown us just how versatile these little gems are. They're comfortable and familiar, like an old friend (or a good husband!) who can still wow you now and then!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautifully put, Laine. Basic breaded cutlets are exactly that. Familiar as an old friend, but one I'm happy to see again and again. :)

      For all the cooks out there, today's post is more of a reminder than a recipe. I made them quickly on a busy day, and we ate them with just a squeeze of lemon that also went over the olive-oil dressed salad. Easy, healthy, and best of all satisfying.

      Thanks for dropping by today, Laine. Welcome back to your husband--I have no doubt he can still wow you now and then, too!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  3. Must be the season. My husband is out of town and due back tomorrow!
    Cleo, as usual you have taken something that we might not think about (taking it for granted) and showed us "the tricks" to having it be super.
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Libby - Thank *you* for taking the time to drop by and leave such a kind comment. Experienced cooks like you certainly don't need a tutorial on something this basic, but I hope the tips are helpful for folks who haven't made breaded cutlets in a while.

      It's always a pleasure to see you in the Kitchen, Libby. Have a great week and I hope your husband has a safe journey!

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  4. Beautiful cutlets, Cleo. They're making me hungry! The cheese makes all the difference in the flavor, doesn't it?

    ~Krista

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Krista - thanks and yes! My mother and aunt were big on using grated cheese in breadcrumbs, which is pretty common with Italian cooks; but, in general, boosting the flavor of breadcrumbs, whether plain or pre-seasoned, really does help an un-marinated fillet come through the frying with good flavor intact.

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

      Delete
  5. They look delicious and simple.

    ReplyDelete

 

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