Ginger Pierce's Family Meal at Five Points

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What the staff eats at restaurants.

Ginger Pierce, the chef de cuisine at Five Points in Manhattan, shares of a her version of veal Milanese, a traditional Italian dish, substituting chicken for veal to make it wallet friendly (and thus staff appropriate) without losing any flavor. Enjoy! -Helen

Family meal in restaurants can be a way to honor all of the hardworking employees at the restaurant -- a way for the kitchen to say thanks. Unfortunately, it occurs every day, usually with a busy dinner service looming. Anyone who has worked in a restaurant has probably been victim to some pretty offensive family meals. Most of the time a line cook who is struggling to get a station set up is preparing family meal, and they’re just praying to have something to serve when it’s time. Furthermore, he is often stuck with the same low cost proteins and basic pantry ingredients.

All that said, it is possible to make a really great family meal with such limitations. One favorite is Chicken Milanese. As there are only so many times you can serve roasted or grilled chicken breasts without being greeted with groans, Milanese is refreshing and fun. It’s always a big hit, and with a little planning, can be a fast and easy pick up. This recipe makes a really crispy version of it, that pairs well with a green salad dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Serves 6

  • 2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly picked thyme leaves
  • 2 cups dried breadcrumbs (fresh if you can!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • clarified butter or olive oil
  1. Cut the chicken breasts in thirds, trimming away excess fat or cartilage. With a meat mallet, or rolling pin, pound the breasts between plastic wrap to about ¼ inch thickness. Season the chicken breasts liberally with salt & pepper.
  2. Coarsely chop the thyme and toss with the breadcrumbs and a little salt & pepper, and put in a wide container. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, and put in another wide container. Put the parmesan in a third wide container.
  3. Place the seasoned chicken breast in the cheese, really pressing it into the meat. (The key is to get it really well coated.) Then dip the breast in the egg letting any excess fall back into the container. Finally coat the chicken on both sides with the herbed breadcrumbs. Repeat this process with each piece of chicken.
  4. Heat a skillet to medium high heat & add the clarified butter or olive oil ¼ inch deep. (Make sure you give the pan time to heat back up after you add the fat.) As you add the cutlet to the oil, you should hear a light sizzle. If you don’t hear it your pan is too cold. If it is really loud & starts smoking, your pan is too hot. (Even temperature is really important!) Gently brown the cutlet on the one side, about a minute and a half, then flip with tongs & brown the other side. When brown, remove from the pan & place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry. Serve immediately.