Anyone who has read my column for more than three words knows that I am first and foremost a hassle-free cook.
If it requires a rolling pin, I’m out. Ditto things like making fresh pasta, shelling peas or fava beans, canning, jarring or otherwise making a kitchen fuss.
So when people tell me that to bread chicken or fish properly you need to do the dry-wet-dry method, I poo-poo them. I’ve been a misguided devotee of egg then bread crumbs, which I always thought was enough of a mess, but I finally gave in today.
For the small amount of additional effort, it’s worth the extra bowl and sticky hands. The breading adheres beautifully, resulting in a crisper, more flavorful cutlet or fillet. Trust me, I do not add steps or dirty dishes lightly!
I made these chicken cutlets for the classic Chicken Bruschetta Summer Supper, but the method works well with any breaded protein — flounder fillets, veal cutlets, even tofu. And maybe best of all, I cooked them in the oven, so no standing over a sizzling fry pan.
The Holy Grail of Breading
- 1 pound scaloppini-style (thin) chicken cutlets (or fish fillets or veal cutlets)
- 1 cup flour generously seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- Oil for cooking
Place three shallow bowls side-by-side on your work surface.
Place seasoned flour in the first bowl, the eggs in the second and bread crumbs in the third.
Dredge a piece of chicken in the flour, shake off the excess, then dredge it in the egg. Shake off the excess, dredge it in the bread crumbs, then shake off the excess.
Place the coated cutlet on a baking tray and repeat this process until all the cutlets are coated.
Place the cutlets in the fridge, uncovered, for about a half hour; this helps the breading to adhere and also gives the oven a chance to heat to 425 degrees.
Generously drizzle the oil over the chicken and allow it to seep under the cutlets; you are essentially creating the opportunity for the chicken to pan fry in the oven.
Cook the chicken in the oven for about 35 minutes; it should be brown and crispy when done. (Fish will take less time in the oven; check it at 25 minutes).