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