When I was a little girl, we moved from the city to an archetypal, all-American, small town. Just a block up the road was a group of stores that included a pharmacy with a great collection of greeting cards and a chest freezer filled with frozen treats. When my cousins visited, we were allowed to walk to the pharmacy and buy whatever we wanted. I can remember sitting on the front steps of our home eating creamsicles, fudgesicles or drumstick ice-cream cones very slowly because we didn't want to be the first one finished.
Next to the pharmacy was a delicatessen/butcher shop. Many times my mom would send me to purchase deli-meat, cheese or cuts of meat for our dinner. It was a family owned business and I still recall how nice they all were. So there was little me, list in hand, ordering a pound of this and a half-pound of that.
Back then, we were a meat-and-potatoes kind of family. I can only guess how many pounds of potatoes I peeled growing up! And, chicken cutlets were routinely served on our pretty Melmac dinner plates.
I still love chicken cutlets, although we don't have fried food nearly as often as when growing up. No more cast iron skillet filled with hot oil. Now when I fry, I add as little oil as possible and found using a ceramic pan I can get away with much less.
You can do a lot of things with chicken cutlets. Top with mozzarella cheese and your favorite marinara sauce for a classic Chicken Parmesan atop a bed of spaghetti. Place on a bun with lettuce and a tomato slice with a smear of mayo of dollop of barbecue sauce. Or serve just plain with ketchup for dipping. Yes, the kid in me still rules.
This time I was inspired by how Ina Garten serves hers. Topped with some salad greens dressed as you please. (Ina used a simple lemon vinaigrette but I think you could just use your favorite.
So, prepare to get your fingers messy and dirty lots of dishes because chicken cutlets are worth the mess.
Parmesan Chicken Cutlets(Serves 6-8 at least)
4 large skinless, boneless chicken breast
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 large eggs
splash water or milk
1+ cup seasoned, dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Cut each chicken breast (crosswise) into 1 1/4-inch slices. (You should get about 5 from an average size chicken breast)
Place chicken into a plastic zip bag, and using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken to 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick, being careful not to tear it. Repeat will all of the chicken.
Gather three shallow bowls and a plate or pan. Add flour, salt and pepper to the first bowl. Add the eggs and water to the second bowl and beat with fork. To the third bowl, add the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Dredge each chicken cutlet in the flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg mixture and finally into the breadcrumbs, pressing to completely coat. Place onto plate or pan.
Heat a non-stick skillet to medium and add about 1 Tbs. oil. Using tongs, gently place cutlets in pan leaving space around each. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Flip and continue cooking on the other side until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove to a cooling rack. Cook remaining cutlets adding more oil as needed. Wipe pan between batches if needed.
If you want to top with salad greens as Ina did, wash and spin dry your greens. Toss with your favorite vinaigrette or prepare Ina's Lemon Vinaigrette by whisking together the following:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper