Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pork cutlets Milanese

This recipe is by no means unique. You can try this with pork, chicken, veal, or even beef. What makes my version special is the trial and error I have endured for a couple of years until figuring out how to make these the best they can be.

Brining is essential (though don’t do it with beef). It infuses flavor into the meat and does some tenderizing as well.

Don’t be daunted by the instruction to fry only 3 1/2 minutes total. It will be completely cooked through. Any longer and you will have shoe leather. Get the oil quite hot: a drop or 2 of water flicked in (from a distance, please) should pop instantly.

Even my largest skillet was not big enough to hold all 4 chops at once. And in any case you would not want to crowd the pan.

Take seriously the direction to rinse thoroughly. You definitely need to get all the surface salt off the chops. And (this gets said twice) NO additional salt. In addition to what the chops have absorbed from the brine, the parmesan is salty.

My partner, Peter, is expert at making homemade bread crumbs from virtually any kind of leftover bread we have. Giada DiLaurentiis (whose repeated demonstrations of Milanese-making inspired me to experiment) uses seasoned bread crumbs. I consider that a real no-no. The off-the-shelf stuff from the supermarket tastes like crap to me.

Pork cutlets Milanese
4 boneless pork loin chops, trimmed of all fat
black pepper
paprika (smoked if possible)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (or Romano, or a combination of both)
oil for shallow frying

Carefully cut the chops through the middle until you can open them like a book. One by one place them between sheets of plastic wrap and pound them to about ¼” thickness.

Cover the chops with the brine and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Remove from the brine, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and dry completely with paper towels.

Use 2 plates and a wide bowl: put the flour on one plate, the bread crumbs mixed with the parmesan on the other, and the eggs in the wide bowl.

Sprinkle the chops on one side with some black pepper and paprika. DO NOT add salt. One by one, dredge them in the flour (shake off excess), coat with egg (shake off excess), and then press both sides into the crumb and cheese mixture – coating them thoroughly. Place the chops on a plate uncovered and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Heat 1/8” vegetable oil until very hot. Place 2 chops in the oil, fry for 2 minutes; flip them over (carefully) and fry 90 seconds on the other side. Remove them to a plate covered with paper towels, cover with foil and let them sit while you fry the other 2 chops. Drain the second pair on paper towels and serve immediately.

*2 cups water, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tbsp black pepper – stirred until the salt dissolves.

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