Jenny Rosenstrach writes the fantastic food blog Dinner: A Love Story and has a brilliant cookbook memoir of the same name coming out next week (yay!). She and her husband Andy are passionate about nightly family dinners with their two daughters–and swear it’s possible, if you keep things simple and fun. (Fun fact: Jenny has a diary listing every single dinner she’s made since 1998!) Here, she reveals her secret family recipe for the best chicken cutlets ever…
My mom went to law school at night when I was in fourth grade and instead of allowing us to subsist on McDonalds and pizza delivery for dinner while she was out studying Griswold v. Connecticut, she taught my father how to make one meal: Breaded Chicken Cutlets. We ate a lot of them. A lot. It’s a testament to the recipe that almost three decades later, in spite of a bumpy batch every now and then (the time I served a soggy, rubbery mess of them to my then-boyfriend-now-husband comes to mind immediately), the meal has become a veritable hall-of-famer in my house.
But as well as my mom made them (and still does), it was my Aunt Patty–my 500px Italian Aunt Patty who once even took a cooking class with Giuliano Bugiali–who taught us the secret that took the classic dish to levels previously unforeseen. She taught us to replace plain old bread crumbs in the dredge with Kellogg’s Corn Flake Crumbs. As a mother, I can’t tell you how crucial the extra crispiness becomes when you are competing with twin chicken evils Finger and Nugget. And in the summer, we top them with a mess of arugula and tomatoes, and everyone’s happy.
Recipe: Basic Breaded Chicken Cutlets, aka Chicken Milanese
Few generous glugs of olive oil (5 to 6 tablespoons), or more as necessary (you are not deep-frying here, but pretty close)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Kellogg’s Corn Flake Crumbs (available in the bread crumb section of most supermarkets) that have been salted and peppered
4 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds), rinsed and patted dry and pounded like crazy in between two sheets of wax paper with a meat pounder (or, in a pinch, a rolling pin)
Lemon wedges (optional)
Add the oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Set up your dredging stations: one rimmed plate for the eggs, one plate for the flour, and one plate for the bread crumbs. Using a fork, coat your chicken pieces first in the flour (shaking off any excess), then in the egg, then in the crumbs, pressing the chicken into the crumbs to thoroughly coat.
Fry each breast in the oil for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. (I usually do two at a time, but I’ve been known to cram all of them in at once and then spend the entire meal wishing I had just sucked it up and waited the 6 extra minutes.) The cutlets are cooked when chicken is firm to the touch but not rock hard.
Remove and drain the chicken onto a paper-towel-lined dinner plate tented with foil if you have more pieces to fry. Add more oil to the pan and fry the remaining breasts.
Serve with a squeeze of lemon and a lemon wedge.
Note: Feel free to add any of the following to the bread crumbs: a pinch of cayenne, a teaspoon dry mustard, fresh thyme or oregano leaves, some ground flax, sesame seeds or freshly grated Parmesan.
Thank you so much, Jenny! Her new cookbook, Dinner: A Love Story, is part memoir, part recipes, and totally hilarious and inspiring. (Also, pictured above is the inside of her kitchen cabinet, which is painted with favorite family recipes.)