If you’re looking for healthy, light and/or vegetarian eating, this ain’t the place today.
This week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday is Breaded Veal Cutlets. I’ve had these in many a Calabrese-American and Calabrese home, and they always taste pretty much the same–but this recipe comes from my non-Italian mom.
Then again, these cutlets sound awfully similar to Wiener Schnitzel, an Austrian dish more along the lines of my mom’s German heritage. Oh, but not so fast! Some say even the schnitz originated in northern Italy, under the name cotoletta alla milanese (although these generally have bones and are fried in butter).
Whatever their origin, they’re darn good, and I recommend that when you make them, you make a lot (at least a pound) because (1) they’ll go fast and you’ll wish you had made more while the mess was out; and (2) they are great leftover, even cold. Especially as a hangover remedy. Or so they tell me.
We tend to make a meal out of them (with salad or other greens), but they can also be used as a traditional Italian second course. Serve with lemon if you like, although I’m not a big lemon fan, so I don’t.
Also, I should note that I like mine a little smaller than what I’ve been served in many an Italian dining room; I like making them about the size of my hand at their biggest whereas most I’ve seen take up most of the plate. I think my preference comes from when I was small (literally) and my mom would make special baby ones for me because I didn’t use to eat very much.
My how things have changed. And yet the recipe remains the same!
Breaded Veal Cutlets
- 1 1/2 to 2 lb veal cutlets, about 1/8 inch thick (beat ’em if you have to; it’s fun!)
- 1 1/2 c unseasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 3 tbsp grated parmigiano cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp milk
- vegetable oil for frying
First I recommend setting up a comfortable work area as it will make the whole process go much smoother. I put down a cloth or newspaper to catch spillage and stray crumbs and it makes clean-up very easy.
If you need to thin out your cutlets, do so with a flat mallet (I’ll use the underside of a tablespoon in a pinch). Now once your cutlets are the desired thickness, put them on a plate to your far left–if you work left to right, that is, otherwise far right and work your way to the left.
Then, in a shallow, wide bowl, place the egg, milk, and salt and beat together well. If you’re really serious, you can check out the 3 piece breading pans like this.
Next in line comes the bread crumb mixture. I usually just mix this through with a fork until it looks well blended. Do this in another shallow, wide bowl.
And finally, put an empty plate for the finished breaded cutlets on the far right.
Now begin breading. Dip each cutlet into the egg mixture, and then into the breading, patting gently to keep the crumbs on but not too hard so that you’re grinding them into the meat.
Shake off excess crumbs before you put on the “done” plate. You don’t want want too many extra crumbs flaking off into the oil later because they’ll burn and make everything taste funny. Or at least burny.
When you’re finished breading, you’re ready to fry.
Put about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil into a large frying pan and set on medium/high until oil is hot, when it starts to pop a bit. If you want to test it, put in a small cutlet; if it doesn’t immediately sizzle, the oil isn’t hot enough yet.
Put as many cutlets in the pan that fit without crowding them. While your first batch is frying, get ready a plate covered in a couple layers of paper towels, which will soak up a lot of the big bad oil when the cutlets are done frying. Depending on how many cutlets you’re making, you can go through a serious amount of paper towels here, so be prepared.
You only need to fry them about 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. When on the first side, once you notice that the ends are starting to get a little brown, flip. You really don’t want to flip more than once because then they’ll soak up more oil and you may lose breading. You’ll know when they’re done when both sides are golden brown.
Note that some people use flour in addition to the egg and breading steps, which you can do if you like a thicker breading. Also, some may question why I don’t use olive oil for frying; I find it too heavy, and I really don’t like the flavor it gives the cutlets (I have tried it), although perhaps it’s just because I’m used to the vegetable oil variety.
Feel free to play around with the measurements, by the way, because these are only approximations. Rest assured, though, that I did confer with my mom before posting this.