Few things complement the silky texture and mild flavor of chicken like wrapping it in a crispy golden crust. Thin chicken cutlets take especially well to this because they cook through quickly. Less time in the oil means a crunchier outside with little risk of drying the center.
Create Thin Cutlets
Chicken cutlets are available both fresh and frozen, but it's simple to make your own. Pound medium-thick, boneless, skinless chicken breasts flat with a meat mallet or by using the tips of your fingers. This also helps tenderize them. Place your hand flat on top of very thick boneless, skinless breasts and slice them in half horizontally to create thinner cutlets.
Select Sensational Seasonings
Fresh chicken really only needs salt and pepper to help bring out its natural flavor, but you can add other seasonings to your breading if you like. Soak your cutlets for 30 to 60 minutes in buttermilk, citrus juices or a prepared marinade to increase tenderness and add flavor. Add spice mixes such as Italian seasoning, a taco mix or Asian seasoning to your flour or breadcrumbs to deepen the flavor of your dish.
Basic Breading Techniques
Remember that dry sticks to wet and wet to dry. Dredge your chicken cutlets in a bit of cornstarch or flour to help a batter or egg wash adhere to them. Beat an egg into a shallow bowl filled with a half-inch of milk or so. Opt for water if you prefer not to cook with dairy. You can also use an egg substitute or leave the egg out altogether.
Season flour, breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs with herbs and spices of your choice. Use almond or hazelnut flour if you are avoiding wheat. Dip the cutlets into the liquid and then in the breading, repeating to create a thicker crust.
Let the coated cutlets sit in the refrigerator for up to 60 minutes to help the breading dry a little. This will help it stay on the chicken cutlets when you put them in the hot oil. You can freeze these raw, breaded pieces to be cooked later, but don't leave the cutlets in the refrigerator overnight because that will make the coating soggy.
Coat the bottom of a skillet with about a half-inch of canola oil, vegetable oil or peanut oil. Heat the oil to approximately 325 degrees Fahrenheit to 350 F. The oil is hot when its surface begins to shimmer and a sprinkle of flour tossed into it sizzles.
Lay a few chicken cutlets into the skillet, being careful not to splash the hot oil or crowd the pan. Cook the cutlets for 2 to 3 minutes and then turn them with tongs. Cook them for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the center of the thickest one reads 165 F when probed with an instant-read thermometer.
Troubleshooting Tips and Hints
Breading sometimes sticks to the pan, potentially for several reasons. Not enough oil in the pan can make the breading stick, or if the oil is not hot enough to seal the coating. When the oil isn't hot enough, the breading starts to dissolve rather than becoming crisp. This is why it is important not to crowd the pan, and to let the oil heat for a few seconds between batches. Turning the cutlets too soon can also shred the coating, so let the cutlet bottoms become golden before turning.
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