#11 WHAT HAVE ELEPHANTS GOT TO DO WITH MILAN?

#11 WHAT HAVE ELEPHANTS GOT TO DO WITH MILAN?

[We have a wander around Italy on the hunt for the most typical dishes of our heritage. Which you can also replicate at home, if you fancy. That’s right, because we’re also going to give you the recipe!]

Golden breadcrumbs, a crispy coating, a soft heart, cooked with the bone in, thin... but above all big, very big in fact – often bigger than the plate – almost like an elephant’s ear. Ladies and gentlemen... that’s the Cotoletta!

And that’s what elephants have to do with Milan! 

Famous for fashion and design, in recent years Milan has also been attracting millions of tourists thanks to the brand-new skyscrapers of Porta Nuova and City Life... 

But the city also puts on a respectable showing when it comes to cuisine! I’m referring to its Yellow risotto and the Cotoletta alla Milanese – the latter is truly world-famous, along with Ragù and Spaghetti al pomodoro... 😉

There’s always been a dispute with the Austrians when it comes to who created the dish. Forget about the chicken and the egg: which came first, Cotoletta or Wiener Schnitzel? They’re very similar, so who copied who?

In truth, the real Cotoletta alla Milanese of years gone by is thick like a cutlet, whereas the elephant ear shape (the most common nowadays in Milan’s restaurants) is the result of Austrian domination. Wiener Schnitzel is very thin and particularly large; it’s clear that the Austrians (who ruled Milan in the 18th and 19th centuries) were hoarding it. 

The classic recipe (Italian and Austrian) involves coating the meat in egg and breadcrumbs, then frying it in butter. However, today I’ll tell you about an equally delicious but less off-limits version – at least by my standards: the one I’ve always eaten at home. Here it is!

MY VERSION OF COTOLETTA ALLA MILANESE

[preparation time: 40 minutes + the time to marinate the meat (up to 24 hours)]

 

Ingredients [serves 4]

  • 6 slices of chicken breast (about 70 g each)
  • 3 yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 4 tablespoons of grated cheese (preferably Parmesan)
  • 6 tablespoons of Extra virgin olive oil
  • Plenty of fine breadcrumbs
  • Nutmeg

Salt

  • Parsley
  • Basil

 

Method

First off, instead of veal rump or cutlets we’re using chicken breast: easier to find and also cheaper. If you prefer, turkey breast also works well.

The version I have always eaten at home involves breading the meat with added cheese and herbs (parsley and basil), followed by a long stint in the fridge.

Let’s get started! First, sprinkle the slices with chopped basil and parsley, sticking the herbs to the meat by pressing them in with your fingers. Then dip the slices in the grated cheese. Wrap the slices in cling film, one by one. Leave them to rest in the fridge, one on top of the other, for 12 hours. They can actually stay there for up to 24 hours – they’ll be even more fragrant!  

Let’s move on to the breading. In a large bowl, beat the three egg yolks with the egg white as if they were a cream, i.e. vigorously. Add the cheese, a pinch of salt and a good grating of nutmeg. 

Take the slices from the fridge, remove the cling film and season with a pinch of salt. Dip them in the beaten egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs, pressing in with your fingers again to make sure the breadcrumbs stick to the meat. 

The pan you use for frying should be big enough that the slices never overlap. Add the oil to the empty pan and place it on a medium heat. When it’s nice and hot, add the breaded slices. The oil is at the right temperature if the meat starts sizzling straight away – otherwise wait a few more seconds. I recommend testing this first by dipping just one corner of the first slice in the oil. 

Fry them on a high heat for a few minutes on both sides, turning them a couple of times until the coating starts to colour: it should only be lightly golden to prevent the meat from drying out and becoming stringy. Dry each cutlet using a paper towel

Arrange them on a serving dish (preferably a warm one).

And voilà! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside – your cutlets might not be the size of elephant ears, but they’ll definitely taste good. And smell great too!

Buon appetito! 💗


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