Thursday, June 4, 2009
Chicken Milanese and Escarole
I'm going to be honest with you. Chicken Milanese is a nice way of saying fried chicken cutlet. If you order it in a restaurant you usually get salad on top of a fried chicken cutlet or flattened out chicken breast but that's all it is. I'm not trying to dismiss the deliciousness (is that a word?) of it but I don't want you to think it's anything fancy. I like to be honest. Chicken cutlets were on the menu every single week when I was a kid. Everyone loves them, they're easy and quick to make.
Fried chicken cutlets are prepared the same way I prepared the eggplant parmigiana this week. The chicken is dipped in an egg mixture and then breaded in seasoned bread crumbs and fried in canola oil. If you're wondering why I'm using canola oil and not olive oil or extra virgin olive oil it's because it's a very light oil. It has a high smoking point which means that it can tolerate a high temperature before smoking and burning and therefore ruining your food and setting off the smoke alarms. I also like to reserve my more expensive oil for vegetables and salads for when I make chicken marsala or something similar. I usually mix evoo and butter for those. The difference is that for those dishes I'm just lightly and quickly sauteing small amounts of chicken. I don't know, that's just the way I've always done it. If you want to use olive oil mixed with butter for a different flavor go ahead, I'm sure it will taste great. You could also add the step of dredging in flour before you egg it again and then dredge it in breadcrumbs. I know a lot of people do it that way and to be honest, i'm really not sure why. It's an extra step in my opinion and my mom and grandmother never did that but if you want to, go ahead. My cutlets are crispy and crunchy on the outside without the flour. Another preference is where you put your seasoning. My mom always seasoned the egg mixture and used plain breadcrumbs. There are people who season the breadcrumbs and not the egg mixture. Either way is fine but I like to play it safe and season both. It can't hurt, right?
splash of milk
salt and pepper
parsley (fresh or dried)
canola oil, for frying
1. Beat eggs and mix with milk, salt, pepper and garlic powder and a few teaspoons of cheese.
2. In another dish mix breadcrumbs with garlic powder, parsley and about 1/4 cup romano cheese (maybe more).
3. Dip cutlets in egg mixture (let excess drip off) and then cover with breadcrumbs pressing down with your hands to get the breadcrumbs to adhere to chicken. Do this on both sides.
4. At this point, if you like you can make bread patties or polpette (that's what Nanny called them) to snack on before dinner is ready. Once all your cutlets are breaded add the breadcrumbs to the egg and mix it together with a fork. Once combined form little patties with your hands.
5. Let oil get very hot. Make sure you use enough oil to completely cover the pan and go up the sides a little bit. You don't want to keep adding cold oil to the pan because it will drop the temperature and the cutlets will absorb too much oil.
6. As your cutlets and patties are done add them to a paper towel lined plate and put a piece of paper towel between each layer to absorb excess oil.
7. Eat your cutlets as is or add a squeeze of lemon, a chopped salad, bruschetta, whatever you like, your options are unlimited.
These are my little bread patties. They are so delicious!
Escarole is a delicious vegetable that I don't think gets enough attention. It can be eaten raw as a salad or sauteed in garlic and oil or it can be added to soups for some extra vitamins and flavor. I like it all of these ways but this time I sauteed it. It's soft and crunchy at the same time and is very similar to bok choy. Escarole grows in the dirt and like leeks can be very dirty. Make sure to clean each leaf to remove any dirt or grit that may be hidden.
1 head of escarole, cleaned well and chopped if you like (not necessary)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
10 small cloves garlic (less if you don't like a lot of garlic, my cloves were small)
1. Heat large pan and add a good amount of extra virgin olive oil. Add garlic and let it cook over medium heat for a few minutes.
2. Add escarole to pan and be careful that the oil doesn't spit at you. If your leaves are wet this will happen. However, I like when there is some water on the leaves, it helps to cook the escarole. Just make sure you completely cover the pan with the escarole to block the oil from getting you.
3. Let the escarole cook for a minute or two and then toss it in the oil with tongs to cover it all in the garlic flavored oil. Just like spinach this will shrink down to less than half of what you originally had. If you are using more than one head of escarole add it in batches as it shrinks down.
The escarole should still have a slight crunch. The outer leaves have a nice thick white stalk and that will stay crunchy the greener leaves and the more delicate inner leaves will be softer. Would you believe that Steve actually liked it. When you aren't afraid to try something you would be surprised at the things you never knew you would like.