09 May 2007
what's cooking wednesday: breaded veal cutlets

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 breadcrumbs (*not* seasoned)
1 1/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
3 tbsp grated parmiggiano 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.

Buon appetito and remember to check out Jenn's Foodie Blogroll!

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Blogger Gil said...

Your recipes always make me so hungry!

Blogger Michellanea said...

No, not a veggie friendly recipe but no matter. :) I just wanted to point out that up in these parts this is called "la cotoletta alla milanese," emphasis on the nasal Milano accent when pronouncing the word "cotoletta." Buon appetito!

Blogger sognatrice said...

Gil, I hope your wife doesn't hate me!

Michelle, yes, these are kind of like the cotolette, except the traditional Milanese ones have bones and are fried in butter (the link in the post gives a recipe for these). What my family makes seems to be a cross between the Austrian and Milanese varieties...must be more of that "everyone has conquered southern Italy" influence ;)

Blogger Michellanea said...

Sorry, I skipped down and did not see your link because I was trying to avoid the meat picture. No offense to your cooking. :) Yes, I'm THAT schizzinosa when it comes to meat.

Blogger Michellanea said...

As much as I avoid the meat, I do know the one's Cristiano's grandma (a true Polentona Milanese) makes do not have bones. I'm sure she fries in butter though.

Anonymous bella said...

Breaded veal cutlets are my husband's absolute favorite comfort food. (With home made french fried, grease city). My recipe is very similar to yours Parmasean cheese.
I do have to pound the heck out of them with the mallet, otherwise, the meat is very tough for us.
~Very good recipe. What do/or do you serve a side with these?
*ps.. your wine meme totally had me in the mood for a nice glass of red.*

Anonymous bella said...

~I don't know what happened to my comment, but it was supposed to say:
My recipe is very similar to yours *except I use Italian flavored bread crumbs* and I add Parmasean cheese. ?LOL?

Blogger Christine said...

Aww, that's almost exactly like my Mom makes her cotolette, only she doesn't add milk to her eggs. My favorite part was when she would mix the leftover breadcrumbs and egg mixture and fry them off as patties. They never lasted long enough to become leftovers.

Also? Hungry. And it's only 9 in the morning here. How I wish I had some leftovers right now.

I'm with Christine. It's only 6:43 a.m. and now I am graving some veal cutlets.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, this looks so delicious, my monitor now has a greasy smudge mark from my whole head, mouth open, trying to get at that veal. Yum.

Loved the wine post yesterday. Loved the meme and, of course, the great images of the cantina. I love the textures. THAT is what I want to do the rest of my life: make wine, write novels and hug my wife and kids. Is that too much to ask?

Ciao bella! I have to do some serious catching up in the blogosphere and finally I am back to visiting everyone!

Cotoletta is a stand-by in our household too... Ale does like you suggest, making a bunch at a time, it's definitely worth it.

Blogger Jane said...

That looks SO GOOD!! I'll have to try that for my kids. As a matter of fact, my son could make it. He loves to cook and this one he is sure to perfect :))

Blogger Giulia said...

Do my eyes deceive me? Did you put that plate of delicious looking cutlets out on the ringhiera of your balcone to get it in good light for the photo?
*GASP*What if they fell?*GASP*
I wouldn't have risked it! :p

Blogger cheeky said...

You just brought me back to Germany. There was a restaurant in our area known for schnitzel and oh boy was it the best. They served up all the different types. How I miss it! My mom still reminisces about it.

Blogger sognatrice said...

Michelle, wow, I had no idea! At least I gave you a warning!

Bella, I think the seasoned breadcrumbs probably end up tasting fairly similar to the garlic and onion powder, but this is just the way my mom always made them. Plus she doesn't send me seasoned breadcrumbs, but she does send me garlic and onion powder (you'd be surprised how hard they are to find here!). Ah, I add the milk because it seems to tenderize the meat a bit, but I still like them very thin (P likes them a little thicker).

As for servings with them, P just prefers a salad. But me? If I'm in the mood, I go whole hog and make mashed potatoes and some greens like spinach or if I'm feeling especially starchy, peas and/or corn. This would be my comfort food :)

Christine, yeah, the milk was a later addition to the recipe; my mom has convinced me that the meat is more tender, so I listen ;)

NYC, sorry about that. If P takes leftover cutlets for lunch, he usually digs into them around 8.30, so he's not too far off from your schedule ;)

Goodthomas, no, I definitely don't think that's too much to ask. Glad I could bring back some good memories, although please refrain from getting too close to your screen. They scare easily you know.

Shelley, glad to see you back in giro!

Jane, this is a great kid recipe (up to the frying, of course, which needs to be watched closely). In fact, this was probably one of the first dishes I ever learned to make because I liked getting my hands dirty. These and meatballs always made me happy!

Giulia, yes, they're on the railing, but it was only a few of the batch...and besides, I'm a big risk taker when it comes to my beloved blog ;)

Cheeky, glad to take you to Germany--who woulda thought I'd accomplish that on this blog?

Blogger Rebecca said...

OK, now I am hungry...I will have to try this....a bone in the middle of the meat sounds a little more interesting (and probably makes for a lot more flavour) than the meat without it...probably less dry as well.

Blogger rubyslippers said...

this makes me hungry! it looks deee-licious! thanks for sharing your recipe!!
ps--thanks for visiting my blog! glad to have found you in the blogosphere.

Blogger JennDZ said...

Yummy! You can do it with chicken too I am guessing? - My family used to make the chicken kind ALL THE TIME. For me, it means summer picnics. They are delicious cold!

Anonymous Milva said...

I love veal cutlets! This recipe so reminds me of my mother. When I was little, my parents owned a pizza/sandwich shop and my mother and I used to make the veal cutlets together for the veal parm subs...I would prep them and then pass them over to my mother for frying. I think we did this ritual no less than a 500 times from ages 4 to 17...thanks for sharing this great recipe...

Blogger Gil said...

Don't worry my wife doesn't hate you. In fact, she has made a few of your recipes along with a few others I found on Expats' Blogs. Your veal cutlet recipe sounds like my wife's which came from my Sicilian Mother, except I think she uses olive oil.

Blogger Nadine said...

Yummy...I love veal cutlets.

Blogger Peabody said...

You know this is exactly the kind of meal my husband would love for me to make for him.

Blogger sognatrice said...

Rebecca, the Milanese sure seem to like it with the bone inside, but the way I'm used to it, there's barely any meat at all and you can eat them with your hands...although I do rather like breaded pork chops with the bone.

Rubyslippers, thanks, I'm glad to find you too :)

Jenn, yup, chicken as well, but we more often do it with pork. All very tasty!

Milva, how fun! As I said earlier in the comments, this is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen because it lets them get a little dirty while still making something delicious.

Gil, phew! I'm happy to hear that. All of it ;)

Nadine, me too. Now that I've posted this recipe, I'm in the mood to make them again...and again...and again...

Peabody, then you should definitely give it a whirl. With your talent, it'll be a breeze!

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