As a little girl, I perceived my mother’s kitchen as a mysterious and intriguing place where sights and smells and sounds converged to become yummy things for me to eat. Of course, I understood nothing about the art and science of cooking. I only knew that after the swooshing of knives, the clinking of whisks, the stirring of pots and the fragrance of garlic and herbs harmoniously sautéing on the stove that I wasn’t allowed to touch, something wonderful and delicious would magically emerge. I looked and I listened, and soon I became pretty good at guessing what Mom was making by observing her various “kitchen dances”.
Among the sounds that always brought me running into her kitchen were “tzzzzt” and “tsssss”. I knew them well. They were the sounds that a cutlet makes as it first meets the surface of a hot pan, followed by the gentle, telltale sizzle that follows as it fries into a mouthwatering golden, crunchy, meaty medallion. Cutlets were one of my favorite foods when I was growing up, and they still are. My mother made them Milanese-style, dipped in egg and seasoned Italian bread crumbs, and served them alongside copious amounts of stewed tomatoes. I’d positively drown my cutlets in that sweet, lovely stewed tomato juice! I can’t help but moan just thinking about it. It was heaven!
This classic Italian dish was originally prepared with veal. But somewhere along the way, chicken became the more popular choice – probably because chicken is a lot more budget friendly. Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought I’d try the dish using turkey cutlets. I think it’s a nice choice for those who aren’t into roasting a whole turkey for the holiday, or who are only cooking for a few. Traditionally, cutlets alla Milanese are served on top of a bed of greens lightly dressed with a vinaigrette. The acidity of the vinaigrette provides a nice contrast to the fried cutlets.
Whichever type of meat you choose for your cutlets, the preparation is always the same. You dredge them in a little flour, dip them in some beaten egg and coat them in bread crumbs before frying them in some hot olive oil. They can be a little messy, but they aren’t difficult at all to prepare.
Here’s how you do it:
You’re halfway there…..
See! That wasn’t so hard.
Just look at that beautiful turkey cutlet! And, they are so, so good! I only had one to photograph because we devoured the rest of them almost immediately. I had to hide this one. Shhh! Don’t tell. I’m saving it for later.
As you can see, I served these cutlets over some nice, peppery arugula. However, I highly recommend trying them with stewed tomatoes. You’ll love them that way. I promise. Unless, of course, you don’t like tomatoes. Then, I can’t help you. I can pity you, but I can’t help you.
If you decide to serve turkey cutlets as part of your Thanksgiving dinner this year, they will go perfectly with all of the traditional trimmings, especially some creamy mashed potatoes and a nice cranberry chutney. As a matter of fact, I have a recipe for a nice cranberry chutney for you. But, you’ll have to wait for next time. Patience is a virtue, you know.
Turkey Cutlets alla Milanese
Note: If you can’t find turkey cutlets, ask your butcher to cut some for you from a turkey breast. You can also cut them yourself, if so inclined. You can make this dish using chicken, veal or pork cutlets as well.
8 turkey cutlets, pounded down to about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thickness
Salt and black pepper
1 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons butter
Olive oil for frying
Season the turkey with salt and pepper and set aside.
Set three shallow-sided plates or pie plates side by side on your counter. Fill the first one with the flour, the second with the eggs and the third with the bread crumbs, panko, Parmigiano, basil oregano and parsley, whisked together.
Dredge cutlets, one at a time, first in the flour, then in the egg and finally, in the bread crumb mixture. Shake off any excess crumbs and reserve on another plate. Chill the cutlets in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will help the coating stay intact when you fry it.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to come up about 1/4-inch high. Add butter and melt. Add cutlets and fry until cooked through and golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Don’t crowd the pan. If necessary, do this step in batches. As each cutlet is cooked, transfer to a platter. You can keep the cutlets warm in a low oven while the rest are cooking.
Serve as is with some lemon wedges, or over a bed of arugula or other salad greens lightly dressed with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Or, serve swimming in stewed tomatoes with mashed potatoes.