Thursday, November 5, 2009

Kitchen Klutz: Chicken cutlets - the good way

By Michèle De Meglio

Although I’m a culinary novice, my mother is a great cook.

When I was a kid in Starrett City in the 1980s, there was one dish that my mom could make in five minutes flat — chicken cutlets. Seriously, she made this stuff super fast, which meant that my brothers and I ate it a lot, which meant that we got tired of it, which meant that we started to despise it, which meant that I’ve carried internal “I-hate-chicken-cutlet” scars into my adulthood.

Growing up and moving out meant that I was free of five-minute cutlets and, instead, surrounded by Lean Cuisine meals. But after one too many frozen sesame chicken entrées, I had to make a stunning admission — I missed chicken cutlets!

When my mom made them the “good way,” as she calls it, which required more than five minutes and a stay in the oven, the chicken was moist and the breadcrumbs were crispy. (The quick version involved just a frying pan and some oil.)

One recent Tuesday evening, I commandeered my mom’s kitchen (and swiped a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup from the pantry for energy) in an attempt to replicate the “good” version.

As my mother offered directions, I cracked two eggs in a mixing bowl and filled another bowl with breadcrumbs (only Progresso’s Italian Style crumbs are allowed in the De Meglio home).

Each chicken cutlet was dipped in the eggs, coated in breadcrumbs and then placed in a frying pan to brown. Sounds easy enough but I really can’t stand when olive oil splashes my skin. Thinking about it, the stove’s sizzling sounds definitely fuel my fear. Why can’t cooking be peaceful and quiet? Humph!

The chicken spent a couple of minutes in the pan before moving to a baking sheet in the oven.

Since I generally don’t use my oven (it’s old and scary!), I was a bit concerned as to how I would know when the chicken was fully cooked inside, especially since I hate that gust of heat that hits your face upon opening the oven door. Although I cried like a baby for mommy’s help, I was relegated to continually cutting the chicken with a fork to see if the inside was white. The cutlet was a bit mangled but at least I knew I wouldn’t get salmonella!

Verdict: Just like mom’s! At least I thought so. My mom said they were a bit too brown but the burnt parts are my favorite! So to you other kids all across the land, take it from me, parents just don’t understand.

Mom’s Chicken Cutlets


4 thin chicken cutlets

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

2 eggs

Olive oil


Fill one bowl with eggs, another with breadcrumbs. Dip each cutlet in the eggs then coat with breadcrumbs. Coat frying pan with olive oil and cook chicken until lightly brown on both sides. Place chicken in oven for seven minutes at 375 degrees to finish cooking.

Kitchen Klutz follows 20-something Michèle De Meglio as she burns casseroles and her fingers, all in hope of trading frozen dinners for home cooking.


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