We’re fans of meat cutlets. There’s really not much to dislike about thin, breaded, pounded-out pieces of meat cooked until crisp, unless you don’t like meat, that is. I used to only order breaded meat cutlets dishes at restaurants instead of preparing them home because I feared they’d be too messy or cumbersome. Then, we made breaded cutlets so often in culinary school that I lost my fear.
Thanks to my year in culinary school, I can practically prepare many foods in my sleep. These include soup, tuna salad, and pie crust which I avoided for 28 years. The same applies to breaded foods. I really do think I can assemble a proper breading station with my eyes closed.
Once you feel comfortable preparing a breaded meat cutlet, you can make a variety of dishes. Besides Chicken Parmesan, we like schnitzel which I’ve made with pounded-out pork. And if you ever visit a Mexican restaurant that serves tortas, try ordering one with a thin and crispy slice of beef milanese.
I experienced one of the greatest odes to the fried meat cutlet at a restaurant chain in Querétaro, Mexico. The restaurant’s menu was dedicated to all things milanesa and offered cutlets in breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. I smile when I see bloggers “inventing” dishes like pizza made with a chicken cutlet base because I’m pretty sure that restaurant in Querétaro, created it first 😉
My first attempt at making Chicken Parmesan turned out well and tasted just as good as any $15 restaurant entree we’ve ordered in the past. Now it’s a dish Jake frequently requests. Here’s my take for a [relatively] easy weeknight meal.
Week Night Chicken Parmesan with Cheater Sauce
Boneless skinless chicken breasts
All purpose flour
Egg wash (egg whisked with water or milk)
Bread crumbs ( like panko, but have combined different varieties)
Finely grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Set up your breading station. I use three wide, flat containers.
- Combine the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder in the first. Beat the egg and water together in the second (use more or less eggs depending on how many chicken breasts you have). Combine the bread crumbs, a handful of chopped parsley and parmesan cheese in the third.
- Pound the chicken breasts until they are uniformly flat, but not too flat or else they will become dry. First, dredge the chicken breasts in the flour and shake off any excess. Second, coat the chicken in the egg wash and allow the excess liquid to drip off. Third, coat the chicken the bread crumbs. Place the breaded cutlets on a sheet pan and place in the freezer briefly to set up.
- Heat olive oil in a pan. Pan fry the cutlet until it’s brown on both sides. Place cutlets on a sheet pan lined with a cooling rack in an oven set at about 200 degrees. If the chicken is still pink inside, it will finish cooking in the oven. The cooling rack will prevent the bottom of the cutlet from steaming and becoming soggy.
- Line a baking dish with your favorite marinara sauce.
- Place the chicken cutlets in the pan.
- Top with mozzarella cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbly. Finish under the broiler if you want extra browning.
- Serve the cutlets with marinara sauce, spaghetti, parmesan cheese and a fresh vegetable.
Jeni’s Cheater Marinara Sauce
Choose your favorite jar of cheap marinara. In a saucepan, saute a little chopped onion in olive oil until the edges brown. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add a glug of red wine and reduce slightly. Pour in your marinara sauce and simmer until you need it. Add fresh basil or oregano if you have it.