Written by Danielle Oteri
Most nights when I come home from work, I like to try and guess what’s cooking in people’s apartments, and almost every night I smell chicken cutlets.
True, I can’t be sure it’s not some other meat, but the smell of breadcrumbs sizzling in hot oil is unmistakable. Chicken cutlets signify to me the ultimate home-cooked dinner.
No one is going to go out to a restaurant and order something so simple, but when cooking at home, it’s an evergreen.
It’s the one of the first things I remember making for friends in college, on a camping stove on the floor of my dorm with a loaf of bread and salad from a bag on the side.
As 18-year-olds on a steady diet of grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken cutlets were truly something special.
And here’s something I don’t think I’ve revealed here before: chicken parm, the beautiful evolution of chicken cutlets, is my favorite food.
Yup, I live in the restaurant utopia of New York City and I’ve traveled all over France and Italy, but there’s nothing that brings me as much giddy, satisfied pleasure as a chicken parm on a crusty roll.
Chicken parm is a purely Italian-American invention. I recall a group of students in my Italian class in Florence conspiring over their plans to make chicken parm that evening.
Our Tuscan teacher overhead them and asked, “Che cosa cheek-en parma?” One of the students, wide-eyed and salivating, began describing it while the professora‘s face scrunched up in disgust.
She repeated it back to him in English, describing something like a roast chicken covered in parmigiano reggiano.
Soon all the American students were chiming in trying to better explain chicken parm and how delicious it could be. Unconvinced, she said, “Maybe in Sicily,” with a dismissive hand wave.
They are expanding on their menu of Italian-American classics cooked with high-falutin’ culinary school techniques. Nonetheless, the chefs are partial to Progresso breadcrumbs for their chicken cutlets!
Given that parm is my favorite, a good recipe for the cutlets themselves is something I’ve been perfecting for years. After that, you just need good red sauce and some shredded mozzarella.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 cu[ vegetable oil or olive oil
- Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally to make two thinner cutlets.
- Line a cutting board or a clean countertop with a piece of plastic wrap.
- Place two cutlets on the plastic wrap and cover with another piece of wrap.
- With the flat side of a meat tenderizer, pound the cutlets until they are no more than 1/2 inch thick.
- Repeat with the remaining cutlets. (Alternatively, you can buy packaged presliced thin chicken cutlets, but they won't be as large as these - more like chicken tenders.)
- Stir the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper together in a wide bowl.
- In a second bowl, beat the eggs.
- In a third bowl, stir the breadcrumbs, cheese, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and about 1/2 teaspoon pepper together.
- First dredge each chicken cutlet in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip in the egg, again letting any excess drip off, and then coat in the seasoned breadcrumbs.
- Repeat with all the cutlets.
- In a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet, heat about 1/4 cup oil over medium heat until shimmering.
- Add enough cutlets to comfortably fit in the pan (likely just 2 cutlets) and cook until crispy and browned on both sides, about 5-6 minutes total. You may need to flip the cutlets more than once to make sure they are browning evenly.
- Repeat with the remaining cutlets.
- Grate fresh Parmesan over the chicken cutlets just before serving, if desired.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 520Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 195mgSodium: 1323mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 47g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.
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