the appetizer:

Daisy: Morning, Noon, and Night—Bringing Your Family Together with Everyday Latin Dishes by Daisy Martinez includes recipes like The Choripan; Shrimp Ceviche ("Xni Pec"); Peruvian Roast Chicken (Pollo a la Brasa); and Milanesas (Panfried Breaded Veal, Turkey, Pork, Beef or Chicken Cutlets).

Cookbook Profile

(Panfried Breaded Veal, Turkey,
Pork, Beef or Chicken Cutlets)

Makes 6 servings




Everywhere you go in Argentina, you will run into milanesa, a breaded and panfried cutlet of chicken, pork, turkey, veal, or—this is Argentina we're talking about, after all—beef. La milanesa makes its appearance for breakfast on a roll with a fried egg, for lunch as a light entrée, or for dinner with all sorts of side-dish possibilities. It is not unusual to be offered a large milanesa cut into strips as a tapa with drinks in someone's home. Below are some pointers for starting out with the right cuts of meat or poultry for breading and frying.

Just about any kind of meat or poultry can be turned into a milanesa. But it helps, especially with beef and pork, if the cutlets are cut across the grain. That ensures a fork-tender consistency in the finished result, not to mention easier pounding. Turkey and chicken cutlets are easy to prepare at home. If you have a cooperative butcher or access to a supermarket with a real person behind the meat counter, pork, beef, or veal will be a snap too. Regardless of which type of milanesa you are preparing, start with something in the neighborhood of a 3- to 4-ounce cutlet that measures about 1/4 inch thick before it is pounded out.

Use very thin (about 1/4 inch), even slices cut across the grain from a center-cut loin of pork roast.

Use very thin (about 1/4 inch), even slices cut across the grain from an eye round roast, or look for cubed steak in the prepackaged meat section of the supermarket.

A lot of things are sold under the name "veal scaloppine" or "veal cutlets" in supermarket cases. Most of them will work for preparing a milanesa. Ideally, though, the veal for milanesa (like the beef and pork) should be cut across the grain from a single muscle to make for easy flattening and tender results.

"Chicken cutlets" are sold in most supermarkets. Take a look at the package, and if they appear to be 1/4 inch thick or so and in nice, large pieces, go ahead and buy them. Then simply pound them out according to the directions in the recipe. If they look superthin and/or ratty, buy whole boneless chicken breasts and slice them horizontally in half before pounding them out. The sliced chicken breasts may be thicker than 1/4 inch, but they will be easy to pound out to 1/4 inch as described in the recipe. If any of the little "fillets" underneath become detached while you are prepping the chicken breasts, just set them aside, then make "mini milanesas" with them and fry them up along with their bigger brothers.

Finding turkey cutlets that work for milanesa is a relatively easy task in most supermarkets. Look for boneless turkey breasts that have been thinly sliced across the grain and are labeled "turkey scallops" or "turkey cutlets." Like sliced chicken breasts, the turkey cutlets may be thicker than 1/4 inch, but they will pound out nicely.


Milanesa Recipe

Here is the master plan for making juicy milanesas with a crisp coating. Virtually any fresh herb or ground spice—oregano, sage, parsley, basil, cumin, or coriander, to name a few—can be added to the bread-crumb coating. A little finely grated Parmesan cheese makes a nice addition too.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1. Pound out the cutlets: Tear off 2 good-size pieces of plastic wrap. Center a cutlet over one of the sheets and top with the other sheet. With a meat mallet or the bottom of a small heavy saucepan, pound the cutlet to an even 1/4-inch thickness (or as close as you can manage). Use good, firm whacks, but try not to tear holes in the cutlet. Put the pounded cutlet on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining cutlets. Season them well with salt and pepper.

2. Set up a breading station: Beat the eggs with a few drops of water in a wide shallow bowl. Spread the flour and bread crumbs on separate plates. One at a time, dredge each cutlet in the flour to coat both sides and shake off the excess flour. Dip the floured cutlet in the egg until it is coated, and hold it over the bowl for a few seconds to let the excess egg drip back into the bowl. Lay the cutlet flat in the bread crumbs and turn once or twice, patting the crumbs onto the cutlet to help them stick. Shake off the excess crumbs and layout the cutlet on a clean baking sheet (or wire rack; see Tip).

3. Pour about 1/2 inch of canola oil into a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. The oil should be hot enough to give off a very lively sizzle when an edge of a breaded cutlet is dipped into it, but not smoking. Add as many cutlets as will fit in the pan without overlapping, lower the heat to medium-high, and cook until the undersides are crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Turn the cutlets over to brown the other sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Fry any remaining cutlets, replacing the oil in the pan and giving it time to reheat as necessary. Serve the cutlets with lemon wedges.

Tip: If you own a wire cooling rack (or two), this is a good place to use it. After the cutlets are breaded, lay them on the rack(s) while the oil is heating. This will firm up the coating and help keep the crumbs in place during frying, and it will also prevent the breading from getting soggy.


How to Serve a Milanesa

Would you like a side of fries with that? The Cumin-Scented Fried Potatoes on page 153 would go very nicely. If that sounds like too much fried for one plate, top the milanesas with a salad of baby greens tossed in a light vinaigrette, or serve the Simple Salad with Spanish Blue Cheese Dressing (page 130) alongside. In Argentina, any of the milanesas might be served on top of a chopped salad of onion, tomato, lettuce, and portobello mushrooms. They might also be served a la napolitana, that is, topped with a light napping of tomato sauce, a slice of prosciutto or ham, and one of mozzarella cheese and heated until the cheese is melty and delicious.


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This page created October 2010