Chicken Milanese
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Chicken Milanese is not only an attractive dish to the eye, but also a satisfying dish to the palette.

 

 

 

 

A crispy coating on the outside of a juicy chicken breast, heightened with salty Parmesan and fresh lemon, Chicken Milanese is a ‘dinner winner’ requiring minimal prep to get on the table. A well-known dish originating from Milan, Italy, Milanese traditionally calls for thinly pounded veal cutlets. In this recipe, we are using chicken cutlets instead, dipped in an egg wash, and then dredged in a combination of Panko breadcrumbs, Italian breadcrumbs, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and the zest of a whole lemon. It’s then sautéed in oil over a medium-high heat until perfectly golden and crispy.

I make a sage and lemon butter reduction which adds even more pungent lemon flavor to the finished cutlet. I give the reduction the slightest hint of smoke and the tiniest amount of heat by adding Aleppo pepper. Traditionally, Milanese style incorporates a lightly dressed and tossed topping of greens. It is a perfectly rounded meal just this way, garnished only with a side of roasted spaghetti squash or pasta if desired.  Chicken Milanese is not only an attractive dish to the eye, but also a satisfying dish to the palette.

 

 

 

The very idea that out of boredom, an outing evolved that led me (somehow) to a culinary and specialty food store…sorry, but this was Divine intervention.

 

When I purchased my first house and was just starting out, I had little extra money to dine out, or even to spend on fancy ingredients cooking at home. To put it plainly, I wasn’t eating steak. I remember driving out along River Road in Bucks County, Pennsylvania one Sunday, just to get myself out of the house. It was winter, and a good amount of snow still covered the ground. I pulled off at a culinary store somewhere between Tinicum and Uhlerstown, a rambling red barn that was very old and distinctively inviting. The very idea that out of boredom, an outing evolved that led me (somehow) to a culinary and specialty food store…sorry, but this was Divine intervention.

Once inside, I was surprised to learn that in addition to the many rooms of wares, the owner was about to present a cooking demonstration. It was here that I first learned how to prepare Chicken Milanese. It was among the first methods of cooking chicken I’d learned, and his suggesting that experimenting with sauces and various greens was limited only in my imagination, then had me using this method for everything from Milanese to Parmigiana.

 

 

 

The traditional arugula salad with a squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil can also be switched up according to what your eaters prefer.

 

Due to some particularly picky eaters I had with me the day I cooked this recipe for the camera shoot, I made some changes to the type of greens I topped my cutlets with. On this day, I dressed an iceberg, parsley, and Romaine chopped salad with an herbed lemon buttermilk dressing. I also prepared the sage lemon butter reduction for atop the cutlets. The reduction can easily be replaced with a sauce of your preference. It can also be omitted. The traditional arugula salad with a squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil can also be switched up according to what your eaters prefer. My Dad is not a fan of arugula, hence the iceberg, parsley, and Romaine combination for him.

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for Chicken Milanese

 

For the Sage and Lemon Butter Reduction

 

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

2 medium shallots, minced

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup white wine (I use a Riesling)

chicken stock, about 1 cup

10 to 15 leaves fresh sage, scored with a sharp knife but left more or less in tact at the base

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pinch of Aleppo pepper

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

 

For the Chicken Cutlets

 

1 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs

1/2 cup panko Japanese breadcrumbs

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence

2 large eggs, beaten

Four 6-ounce chicken breast cutlets, pounded 1/4 inch thick

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for frying (not olive oil)

1/4 cup chopped parsley

About 2 cups of salad greens of your choice, dressed lightly with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, tossed so all leaves are coated.

 

The Method

 

To Prepare the Sage and Lemon Butter Reduction

In a medium non-stick saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat until softened, 4 minutes. Add the cream, wine and stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer, and add the sage, lemon juice and Aleppo pepper. (Because the solids will be removed at the end, I throw the sage in scored and slightly muddled rather than chopped). Simmer over moderate heat stirring occasionally until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 to 30 minutes depending on your stove’s temperature. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt and white pepper and cover. Allow to warm on burner at lowest setting while cutlets are prepared.

 

 

To Prepare the Chicken Cutlets

In a shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, panko, cheese, lemon zest and Herbs de Provence. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs. Season the eggs and chicken cutlets with salt and black pepper. Dip each cutlet in the egg mixture and let the excess drip off, then dredge in the breadcrumbs. Transfer the breaded cutlets to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the breaded cutlets and cook over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Lower the heat to moderate and fry, turning once, until the cutlets are browned and crisp, 4 minutes. Transfer to brown paper bags or paper towels to drain. Toss your greens in olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon or dressing of choice. Add salt and freshly cracked pepper if desired.

 

 

 

 

Strain all solids from the sage lemon butter reduction through a fine meshed sieve and discard. Plate one cutlet to each dish and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Arrange a neatly piled forkful of the greens atop the chicken. Serve with any remaining sage lemon butter reduction.

 

 

 

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