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Anne's Kitchen: Everyday chicken gets a Milanese makeover

 

Chicken Milanese elevates ordinary chicken cutlets into a taste of Italy. Chicken dipped in beaten egg and then a breadcrumb-Parmesan mixture is quick to cook on the stove, under a broiler or on the grill.

Chicken Milanese elevates ordinary chicken cutlets into a taste of Italy. Chicken dipped in beaten egg and then a breadcrumb-Parmesan mixture is quick to cook on the stove, under a broiler or on the grill. Photo by: coleycooks.com

 

Anne Freeze

 

 

When I was young and foolish in New York, I had a French boyfriend for a time who introduced me to rose wine and veal Milanese. And I still love both, although rose is easier to find in restaurants at the moment than veal Milanese. 

 

According to my "Food Lover's Companion," the term "alla Milanese" (Italian) is a food (usually meat or poultry) dipped in beaten egg, then into a breadcrumb-Parmesan mixture and fried in butter. From my experience, the meat or poultry is pounded thin before dipping. "Paillard" is the term used for the beef, veal or chicken that has been pounded thin before sauteing or cooking alla Milanese style. Because it is summer, and also because we do not have a ready source for quality veal, I am sticking to chicken paillard recipes today. Thin cutlets of chicken lend themselves to fresh farmers' market vegetables and salads. They are quick to cook on the stove or under a broiler and so bring little heat to the kitchen, or they are easy to throw on the grill either in a grill pan or right onto the grill itself.  

 

This past week I had one skinless boneless chicken breast in the refrigerator and went to the store for one more (the joys of the butcher counter). I put these between two pieces of parchment paper and pounded them with a rolling pin to about 1/4-inch or a tad more. Then I marinated them in olive oil, grated garlic, smoked paprika and lemon zest with salt and pepper. I made a sauce by blending parsley and cilantro with lime juice, olive oil, jalapeno and salt and pepper. I cooked the paillards under the broiler for about two to three minutes on each side. Then I tossed the sauce with seeded, sliced cucumbers and sliced seeded sunburst cherry tomatoes and put this salad on top of the chicken. Our side dish was sliced eggplant alla Milanese.  

 

You can top paillards or chicken Milanese with any simple summer salad or a salsa or a simple tomato sauce made of cherry tomatoes cooked in olive oil. The marinade can be varied according to what is in the pantry. You can see from the recipes today that the possibilities are endless. The chicken Milanese below is a hybrid of several recipes I had. The first chicken paillards recipe is from Mario Batali. The second chicken paillards recipe is from well-known French chef Eric Ripert.  

 

 

 

CHICKEN MILANESE 

 

Serves 4 

 

 

 

1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs or panko 

 

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

 

3 large eggs 

 

2/3 cup all-purpose flour 

 

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 

 

2 tablespoons butter 

 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

 

Lemon juice 

 

 

 

  • Prepare chicken: Preheat oven to 200 F. Working with one at a time, place chicken breasts on a cutting board, flat side down. Press down on chicken with the palm of one hand, and cut in half horizontally to make two cutlets.  

     

  • With the flat side of a meat pounder, pound chicken between pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper until about 1/4-inch thick.  

     

  • Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl. Place 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and breadcrumbs in two separate wide, shallow dishes. Season eggs, flour and chicken with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Working with one cutlet at a time, dip into flour, turning to coat and shaking off excess. Dip into egg, and lift out, letting excess drip off. Dip into breadcrumbs, pressing firmly to help them adhere. Transfer to a plate or pan, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. If needed, separate layers with wax paper or parchment paper.  

     

  • Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When melted and hot, add two pieces of the breaded chicken and cook, flipping once, until breading is golden brown and chicken is cooked, 2-3 minutes per side; transfer chicken to clean plate. Add the other tablespoon of butter and oil to skillet and cook the other 2 pieces of chicken. 

     

  • To serve, place 1 piece of cooked chicken on each plate. Top generously with arugula. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle on some Parmesan shavings. Serve with lemon wedge on the side. 

     

    (Source: Anne Freeze, adapted from several recipes) 

     

     

     

    CHICKEN PAILLARDS 

     

    Serves 4 

     

     

     

    4 boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, pounded thin and marinated  

     

    Salt and pepper 

     

    1 cup extra virgin olive oil, separated 

     

    1/2 pound arugula 

     

    1/2 cup orange juice 

     

    1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

     

    1/2 tablespoon black olive paste  

     

    1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil 

     

    1 tablespoon olive oil 

     

     

     

    For the marinade:  

     

    1/2 bunch parsley 

     

    1/2 bunch thyme 

     

    1/2 bunch rosemary 

     

    1/2 cup apple cider 

     

    1 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

     

     

     

  • Combine all marinade ingredients together in a baking dish. Add the chicken and season with salt. Chicken can marinate for up to eight hours (overnight). 

     

  • Preheat grill pan to medium-high heat. 

     

  • Drizzle grill pan with extra-virgin olive oil and place chicken skin side down. Place a brick (clean and wrapped in foil) on top. Once skin is crisp, after about 4 minutes, flip over to finish, about 4-5 minutes. Season the chicken with a pinch more salt. 

     

  • While chicken cooks, reduce orange juice in saucepan over high heat until reduced by two-thirds, about 3-4 minutes. 

     

  • Transfer juice to a bowl and whisk in Dijon mustard and black olive paste until well combined. Whisk in the oil until emulsified. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 

     

  • Toss arugula with one tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. 

     

  • To serve, split arugula salad among four plates, add a whole sun-dried tomato to each, place a piece of chicken on top and drizzle with vinaigrette. 

     

    (Source: Mario Batali, shared by Anne Freeze) 

     

     

     

    CHICKEN PAILLARDS 

     

    Serves 4 

     

     

     

    4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and lightly pounded flat 

     

    1/2 cup shallots, minced 

     

    2 cloves garlic, minced 

     

    1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced 

     

    3/4 cup thinly-sliced fennel 

     

    1/2 cup green olives, pitted and sliced 

     

    1/4 cup raisins, soaked in white wine 

     

    1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted 

     

    2 tablespoons capers 

     

    4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed 

     

    1/2 cup olive oil 

     

    3 tablespoons basil julienne 

     

    2 tablespoons chopped parsley 

     

    Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper 

     

     

     

  • Preheat oven to 450° F. 

     

  • Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Place chicken in a lightly-greased baking dish. 

     

  • Combine together in a mixing bowl the shallots, garlic, tomatoes, fennel, green olives, raisins, pine nuts, capers and thyme leaves. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

     

  • Cover chicken with the tomato, fennel and olive mixture and drizzle a little more olive oil over and around the paillards. Bake chicken in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Sprinkle parsley and basil over the paillards and serve immediately. 

     

    (Source: Eric Ripert, shared by Anne Freeze)

     

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