Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chicken milanese

This is the sort of thing my grandmother always seems to be making us for lunch at her house, except I think she usually uses veal cutlets rather than chicken. I think it's completely delicious and for some reason it always feels quite genuinely Italian to me, probably because both my mother and my grandmother can make these in their sleep as their most basic meat preparation skill. I could eat them any day of the week they're so tasty and so much like comfort food. For a variation, they'd be good on top of a salad of lightly vinagretted baby greens. The most important thing to have on hand is the lemon--it wouldn't seem authentic without it.

I had 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts on hand, you can make as many as you like. Take each chicken breast and slice them in half lengthwise as evenly as possible with a sharp knife to make 2 thin cutlets. You might find this easier to do if you stick them in the freezer for 5 minutes first. After halving the chicken breasts, flatten them, either with a meat pounder (which I do not own, sadly) or with the palm of your hand (which I do own). Get all the cutlets to an even width. Combine 2 tablespoons water and one egg in one bowl, beat them together and set aside. In another bowl combine ¾ cup of fine bread crumbs with salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons minced parsley. Get a skillet ready and hot with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Dip each chicken cutlet into the egg-water mixture, and next dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture. Sauté in the hot oil until very nicely browned, then flip over and brown the other side, then remove to a plate. You'll probably need to do these in batches and might have to keep adding oil. When all the cutlets are done, serve them with large wedges of lemons and insist that everybody squeeze them liberally over their chicken before eating. Do not take no for an answer.

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