Happy New Year! I thought I’d post an easy one today: our chicken cutlets. Healthy-ish, too, or at least not as extravagant as the food we’ve been eating lately. When we made them this weekend, I finally measured this recipe out. It only took 30 years…
For every Italian family in Brooklyn, there’s probably a different chicken cutlet recipe. I grew up eating my mom’s chicken cutlets. They’re delicious, and since my father’s kind of a picky eater and these are his favorite, we had them about once a week. They still taste exactly the same: super-thin-sliced chicken cutlets, dipped in egg then 4C seasoned breadcrumbs, then fried in olive oil until brown and delicious. (Yes, Mommy still makes them for me sometimes, and yes, we all call her Mommy. This is a judgement-free zone, people).
Jason grew up eating different chicken cutlets. His mom used chicken cutlets that weren’t too thin, and used plain breadcrumbs that she seasoned herself with freshly chopped parsley, grated pecorino romano cheese, salt, pepper and garlic powder. She made them once a week too, and used to fry them when he was a kid, but now that everyone’s gotten older, she started baking them in the oven. Like I said, my mom’s cutlets are delicious, but if I can A) only keep one kind of breadcrumbs on hand (plain) and B) eat more, since I can bake them instead of fry them, then I think we have a winner.
When we began “living in sin,” AKA moving in together about a year before our wedding (oh yes, we’re that breed of crazy Italians,) I didn’t really know what to cook for dinner every night. We did a lot of takeout the first few weeks, and Jason and I both kept pestering his mom for recipes. She sent us the “recipe” for the chicken cutlets, but it was basically just the ingredient list, and everything said “to taste.” And that’s what I’m going to tell you – everything is to taste.
If you don’t like fresh parsley, substitute another fresh herb or two, or leave it out entirely. If you’re allergic to cheese, leave it out and increase the salt a little; Jason’s mom used to make two versions (one with cheese, one without) since his brother is seriously lactose intolerant.
Basically, as long as you follow the gist of this, you’ll wind up with delicious chicken cutlets that taste exactly how you want them– and then, it’ll be your recipe.
baked chicken cutlets
Adapted from Mom Rubino
This is the recipe that Jason has perfected; he makes them better than I do now, and the chicken cutlets pictured here were made by him. These are our go-to on a weeknight. As mentioned, these work baked or fried; if frying, follow the directions until you finish breading the chicken, then fry them in a pan with 1/4″ of olive oil until crispy, brown, delicious and cooked through.
If you have time, make these in the morning before you go to work, they’ll stay well in the fridge all day. When the oven’s preheating and these are cooking, pull a quick side or two together, and you’re good to go!
- You can use the salt in two ways: include it in the breadcrumbs, or if you have another minute, salt the chicken itself on one side; that way the meat itself is seasoned. If you salt the chicken, don’t put any extra salt in the breadcrumbs since you’re already using the cheese.
- At the end, dump enough extra oil into your leftover breadcrumbs (if you have any) so that it looks like wet sand. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the chicken and they’ll get extra crispy as it bakes.
- Mom put a “pat” of butter on each chicken cutlet, and it’s delicious that way, but we leave it out now since we sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.
~2.5 pounds of thin-sliced (a little under 1/2″ thick) chicken cutlets
about 1 cup vegetable oil or light/regular olive oil
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
1/4-1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese (to taste)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (to taste)
about 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees; if you have it, convection is nice, they’ll cook faster and get a little browner. Cover 2 half-sheet pans with heavy-duty aluminum foil (no cleaning later!)
Put the oil in a shallow, wide bowl. Mix the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, garlic powder, parsley, and pepper in another medium-sized bowl. If not salting the chicken, add extra salt to taste.
Trim any extra fat or yucky-looking (technical term) stuff from the chicken cutlets. If salting the chicken, do so now.
Dip a piece of chicken in the oil, and let the excess oil drip off; just for a moment, you don’t want them to be completely dry. Dip the chicken in the breadcrumbs, and toss to coat, making sure the chicken is completely covered. Move the chicken to your sheet pan. Repeat until you have breaded all the chicken.
If you want to make them extra special, use Jason’s fancy trick (mixing oil into the breadcrumbs and sprinkling it on top) or do things the Mom Rubino way (a pat of butter makes everything better).
Bake them at 425 until the breadcrumbs are toasty and browned on top, and the chicken is cooked through (170 degrees if you’re using a meat thermometer).