Fried chicken cutlets were a staple growing up. It wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I became familiar with Chicken Milanese, a sophisticated upgrade that tops my mom’s fried chicken cutlet. No, really. Imagine a crispy, thin cutlet topped with arugula, chopped tomatoes, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
I’m wary of ordering Milanese anything (it can be pork, chicken, or veal) at restaurants. Many places don’t pound the cutlet thin enough to my liking. Others do a sub par job of frying—crispy is not optional, in my opinion. I’ve experienced two of these crimes against Milanese recently, which prompted me to finally record my recipe since this site also serves as a record of recipes to pass down to my daughters.
As with any meat-based recipe, my first rule is to start with good quality meat. The way your meat is raised, fed, cared for, etc. is important to this often vegetarian-leaning omnivore. I’ll step off my soapbox now.
Next rule is please pass on those flavorless boneless pork chops, if it’s indeed pork Milanese on the menu. I find center cut pork chops to be not only better in taste, but also more bang for your buck. Watch this video to learn a little more about center cut chops, and how I make the most of them.
And while we’re talking videos, there’s a snapchat recap below of me making this Pork Milanese in real time.
You might be tempted to use panko breadcrumbs, thinking you’ll achieve a crispier bite. I find panko crumbs do not adhere as well. The real secret in making sure the regular, finely ground crumbs stick to the cutlet is time. Once you coat the cutlets, let them sit for a few minutes. This little step allows the breadcrumbs to cling to the meat, the egg acting as a glue, for lack of a better way to describe it at the moment.
One last thing before I run—arugula is usually the green of choice for Milanese. Since it’s not in season at the moment, I subbed in some hydroponic watercress grown locally in Virginia. I loved it, so take that as your cue to use whatever peppery, tender green you can find.
More Italian Inspired Favorites
Lentil-Ricotta “Meatballs” (totally meatless, and amazing!!!)
Two 6-ounce thin cut bone-in center cut pork chops
1/2 cup (65 grams) breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (20 grams) pecorino locatelli cheese
Small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Grape seed oil, for frying
1 cup (140 grams) grape tomatoes, cut in half
Bunch of arugula or watercress, rinsed & gently patted dry
Extra virgin olive oil, to coat the greens
Coarse sea salt, to taste
1 lemon, cut into quarters
Using a sharp knife, cut the larger part of the chop away from the bone. Save the bone, with the remaining meat attached, for a later use (watch this video for more information). You should be left with 2 cutlets, about 3.5 ounces each.
Line a counter or cutting board with waxed paper. Place the cutlets on top, and cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Using a rolling pin, or meat mallet (an empty wine bottle works, too), pound the cutlets until they’re 1/4-inch thick; set aside.
In a pie plate, combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley. Stir with a fork to mix. Dip one cutlet into the egg, making sure to coat both sides. Shake off any excess egg. Place the cutlet in the plate of breadcrumbs, and toss some breadcrumbs on top. Press to make sure the breadcrumbs cling to both sides of the cutlet. Repeat with the remaining piece of pork. Let the cutlets sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Heat some oil, about 1/4-inch worth, in a 12-inch skillet, over medium heat until shimmering. Add the cutlets, and cook until deep golden underneath, about 5 minutes. Turn, and cook on the other side until golden, 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer the cooked cutlets to the wire rack to drain any excess oil.
Meanwhile, prepare the salad. Add the arugula and tomatoes to a medium bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the salad, and season with salt. Squeeze two pieces of lemon on top. Toss to coat well.
Set out two dishes. Place one piece of pork on each dish. Top each with half of the salad, and garnish with a wedge of lemon. Serve immediately.