Chicken Breast Cutlets Worthy Once Again

Citrus-Cumin Chicken Breast Cutlets with Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney

Chicken Breast Cutlets. Somehow this simple classic, like German schnitzel, Japanese katsu, or their Milanese cousin manages to be both elegant, and utterly satisfying. Which I find to be a semi-astonishing statement as these days I usually choose chicken thighs over chicken breasts. Thighs are easier to cook and quite honestly they just taste better. However, I know for a fact that there are lots of folks who will disagree with me on this point and I’m determined to figure out how anyone could disavow such an easily provable statement.

I think the explanation lies buried in our eating habits of the 1990’s. Low-fat was our mantra and we’d gorge ourselves with anything that tooted its blandness loudly and proudly on vacuum-packed plastic. Chicken breasts were the meat of choice – no veins, no sinews, no bones. They were reassuringly ungruesome and for most of that decade, no dinner party was complete without an individual breast sitting in the center of the plate at our fanciest functions. It could be stuffed with prosciutto, strewn with sun-dried tomatoes, or seared on the grill. As long as it was skinned and immaculate and as big as a football we’d pour the Chardonnay and toast the good life.

Chicken Breast Cutlets

The problem with these huge blobs of low-fat protein is that it’s nearly impossible, short of sous-vide, to cook them properly. Chicken breasts have a very narrow window of culinary acceptability. They must be cooked within one-or-two degrees hovering on either side of 158 degrees F.

Which means it’s very easy to get the outside cooked properly but leave the inside raw – or worse cook it all the way through and be left chewing on something very dry. However, when pounded thin and cooked quickly, Chicken Breast Cutlets stay juicy and tender. Add to that the satisfying crunch of panko breadcrumbs, the zing of pineapple and kumquat, and you’ve got a Chicken Breast Cutlets recipe that’s both classic and modern enough to recapture its place at the center our dinner party plate once again. GREG

Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney Citrus-Cumin Chicken Breast Cutlets with Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney

Citrus-Cumin Chicken Cutlets with Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Adapted from Thomas KellerPublished
Citrus-Cumin Chicken Cutlets with Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (a bit less than 1 pound each)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • salt and pepper (as needed)
  • canola oil (as needed)
  • 1 cup kumquat-pineapple chutney (see recipe)
  • ½ cup citrus-cumin dressing (see recipe)
  • fresh dill (as needed for garnish, optional)


Lay one chicken breast half flat on a cutting board. Holding the chicken flat with the palm of your hand, cut horizontally through the thickest side of the breast. Pull the breast open like a book and continue to cut horizontally, separating it into two equally-sized halves.

Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the half breasts. Using a meat mallet, a rolling pin or a heavy frying pan pound the chicken breasts until they compact into cutlets about ½‑inch thick. Try and use just enough pressure to get an even thickness without pulverizing the meat. Repeat with remaining breast. The cutlets may be prepared up to one day in advance.

To continue, set the flour, eggs, and panko in three separate shallow bowls. If using ground cumin add it to the bowl with the panko and stir until well incorporated. 

Season the chicken cutlets generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess, then dip in the eggs and coat thoroughly with the panko, pressing lightly to adhere. 

Add about ¼‑inch canola oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the panko covered chicken cutlets (in batches if necessary) and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt while still warm. Serve the cutlets topped with kumquat-pineapple chutney, drizzled with citrus-cumin dressing and garnished with fresh dill (if using).

Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 2 cupsSource Jean-Georges VongerichtenPublished

The chutney can be refrigerated for up to 1 week

Kumquat-Pineapple Chutney


  • 1 cup whole kumquats (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely diced peeled pineapple (about 4 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 tablespoon Madeira wine


In a small saucepan of boiling water, blanch the kumquats for 1 minute. Drain and repeat 3 times. Halve each kumquat and squeeze out and save any juice; discard the seeds. Thinly slice and/or chop the skins. 

In the same saucepan, combine the diced kumquats with the pineapple, lemon juice, brown sugar, orange juice, kumquat juice and Madeira and bring to a boil. Simmer the chutney over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 8 minutes.

Citrus-Cumin Dressing

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Melissa ClarkPublished

My zesting grater has the option of very thin strips or a fine grate. I chose strips for this presentation.


  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 orange (some zest and juice)
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus more as needed)


Heat a small skillet over medium heat, and toast the cumin seeds in it until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer them to a medium bowl, grate the zest of half the orange into the bowl. Then juice the orange and add the juice as well. Grate the lime zest and squeeze in the juice. Add the ground cumin, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.

I owe photographer Eric Wolfinger credit for the inspration of this Chicken Breast Cutlets photograph.