Do you know anyone who doesn’t love a good chicken cutlet? I’d bet the answer is no. Chicken cutlets, more formally known as chicken Milanese, are one of everyone’s favorite foods.
Chicken cutlets are definitely one of those foods where homemade is absolutely best. But why is homemade SO much better than what you get at the deli or even most restaurants? Well, because making great cutlets takes a lot of love, and a whole lot more patience. That’s not something restaurants can give you much of.
There are countless recipes available for chicken cutlets, but I’ll let you in on a little secret- there is no exact recipe for chicken cutlets. Making chicken cutlets is not about following a recipe, it’s about following a process.
The reason why I say you cannot follow an exact recipe is, first, in terms of measurements, it depends on how many cutlets you intend to make that dictate ingredient measurements.
Secondly, the thickness of the chicken impacts the cooking time and thickness varies greatly in stores and within farms. (Thin cutlets are the only acceptable way to go. If you disagree, just stop reading.)
Third, the kind of pan you use, and how hot your stove top cooks, and what kind of oil you use all also impacts cooking times.
And on and on and on… All the smallest variations play into a final product, which can vary greatly. But learn the process once, and you’ll be a cutlet master for life.
How to make Italian chicken cutlets
- Set up your breading station- Use 3 large bowls, one each of flour, beaten eggs & breadcrumbs. Set a sheet pan out to place chicken on. (I like to use a casserole dish for the breadcrumbs.)
- Pat dry the chicken
- Using one piece of chicken at a time, first dredge chicken in flour and shake off any excess. Then dip the floured cutlet in the egg batter. Use a fork and gently (piercing as little and as lightly as possible) lift the chicken out of the egg and let excess egg drip. Finally, coat the cutlet in breadcrumbs thoroughly. Move the breaded chicken cutlet on the sheet pan and repeat with remaining chicken.
- Let breaded chicken set in the refridgerator for about 2 hours.
- When ready to fry, add enough olive oil to a frying pan to provide about 1/2 inch of oil evenly into the pan. Heat on a medium-high heat. (Remember ALL stoves and burners are different so you will have to decide the right temperature.) I look for the oil to start to gently swirl and move in the pan and then I start to fry.
- Fry the cutlets 2-3 at a time, depending on the size of the cutlets and the size of your pan. You do NOT want to overcrowd the pan. Fry for about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy.
- Drain cutlets on a paper towel lined wire rack. After about 1 minute (just enough to let excess oil absorb into the paper towel) move chicken cutlets to an unlined wire rack to rest.
- Serve immediately or at room temperature.
So… although exact measurements and other factors don’t really guarantee success on this recipe, there are a few things that you can do to ensure you get a fantastic result, every time. Read on.
Feaster’s tips for the best chicken cutlets
- Use the thinnest chicken breast possible.
- Trim all fat and trim to shape. (Tip: save trimmed parts and freeze for stir fry.)
- Season your flour with black pepper, garlic powder and an optional pinch of cayenne.
- Pat dry the chicken very well before flouring.
- Use Italian seasoned bread crumbs. (I like 4-C brand)
- Bread the chicken and place onto a sheet pan and refrigerate for about 2 hours before frying. This will help ensure the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken and don’t fall off while frying.
- When frying, the oil needs to be hot! But the oil can’t be so hot that it’s smoking or the result will be burnt breadcrumbs and bitter tasting cutlets. Monitor and control the temperature at all times. (It should be swirling in the pan, but not smoking.)
- DO NOT leave your chicken unattended while frying! Never take your eyes off the frying pan. Monitor and adjust temperatures throughout the entire process.
- Change your oil frequently. Change oil every other batch, 3 batches at most.
- Drain on paper towel set on top of a wire rack. Move the cutlets after about one minute or the main oil has absorbed and set aside on a separate wire rack.
For best results, serve warm or at room temperature. Cold cutlets are pretty irresistible and especially good on a sandwich so make enough for leftovers!
Some of my favorite combinations for chicken cutlets
There are so many ways to enjoy homemade chicken cutlets! Of course, fresh out of the fryer is certainly one of the best.
However, I also love a chicken cutlet sandwich on soft Italian bread, with fresh mozzarella and prosciutto with balsamic vinaigrette. (Or even better, chicken cutlet with broccoli rabe and mozzarella on a soft roll!)
Ah- and then the most popular use of classic chicken cutlet of them all- the one, the only, Chicken Parmesan, which may be my favorite of them all.
No matter how you decide to serve your chicken cutlets, they are guaranteed to be delicious if you follow the process of flour, egg, breadcrumb, fry and keep in mind my Feaster’s Tips!