Chicken

The Secret to Extra-Crispy Chicken Cutlets

Classic chicken cutlets get a boost, thanks to a few tricks and flavor-packed toppings.

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June 11, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food & Prop Styling By Alexis Anthony.

We've partnered with Shun Cutlery to share expert-approved kitchen tips and techniques. Here, cookbook author and food stylist Samantha Seneviratne reveals the secrets to her never-dry, super-crispy chicken cutlets (psst: You're going to need a sharp knife!).


My notoriously picky almost-three-year-old has impeccable manners. He’ll usually say, “No, thank you,” before he throws whatever I’ve cooked onto the dining room floor and runs away.

But not with a breaded chicken cutlet. Crispy and salty on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside—what’s not to like?

After a recent chicken cutlet dinner, he gave me a kiss on the nose and said that he loves it when I make dinner because “It’s just so yummy.” I know not to put too much stock in his reviews; he tends to be a little mercurial (he’s barely three, after all). But still, I can’t help but feel content when he dons what we affectionately refer to as his “super pansa,” or adorably full tummy, after the evening meal.

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Top Comment:
“My tips? Add to the panko some finely grated pecorino romano, plus a pinch of home-grown and home-dried thyme, crushed between my palms to release its flavor, plus a smidgen of ground nutmeg; and, always, black and white pepper in a 4:1 ratio (I keep small quantities that I pre-grind on hand just for cooking). Oven at 200 degrees F to keep the first batch warm while cooking the second. ;o)”
— AntoniaJames
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But to achieve the perfect, pansa-inducing chicken cutlet, I believe that one must consider the thickness of the breast carefully. If it’s too thick, you’ll never cook it all the way through before the outside burns; too thin and you run the risk of drying out the meat well before you have an even, golden crust.

Chicken breast is notoriously tricky to keep juicy under the best of circumstances, and a breaded exterior only obscures the prize. Rather than pounding the meat, which is both messy and yields some less-than-appetizing shapes, slicing it neatly in half on the horizontal is the ticket. All you need is a sharp chef’s knife and a steady hand.

Another trick: Instead of the classic three-step-breading procedure (flour, egg, panko), I like to make a wet batter with the flour and egg—the panko crumbs adhere better and create a crunchier crust with better coverage. Before you get to frying, throw a few panko crumbs into the oil and make sure they sizzle well. Since your cutlets are nice and thin, they won’t take long to cook through. As long as your oil is super hot, the color of the crust is a good indicator of doneness (you’re looking for golden brown).

Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop & Food Styling by Alexis Anthony.

My son prefers his chicken cutlets all on their own (with a squirt of ketchup on the side), but for the adults, I’ll add a few additions to make it extra special: a bright lemon-avocado relish and a mess of punchy garlic-laden greens.

That sharp knife will continue to come in handy as you pit and dice the avocado, and mash garlic cloves into a salty paste for the dressing. Grab a paring knife to remove the peel and the membrane from the flesh of a lemon—instead of simply squeezing out the juice by hand—and you’ll be able to stretch the fruit even further; squeeze any juice from the leftover piths for the salad.

All that tang and freshness is exactly what an expertly fried chicken cutlet needs. It’s a meal fit for a king or queen (or a toddler that fancies himself a king). A crispy chicken winner you’ll want to eat for dinner—and possibly all the subsequent meals thereafter.


Do you have any tricks or tips for making the perfect chicken cutlet? Tell us in the comments below!

We've teamed up with Shun Cutlery to share smart techniques every home cook should have in their arsenal, as well the essential tools for pulling them off. The makers at Shun Cutlery have been hand crafting blades—from their Classic Kiritsuke 8" Chef's Knife to their Classic Blonde Paring Knife—in Japan for over 100 years. Keep them stocked in your kitchen for precision-perfect slicing, dicing, and more for all sorts of recipes, like these crispy chicken cutlets with lemony avocado relish and garlicky greens.

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  • AntoniaJames
    AntoniaJames
  • KR
    KR
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Writer. Baker. Sticky bun maker.

2 Comments

AntoniaJames June 11, 2020
My tips? Add to the panko some finely grated pecorino romano, plus a pinch of home-grown and home-dried thyme, crushed between my palms to release its flavor, plus a smidgen of ground nutmeg; and, always, black and white pepper in a 4:1 ratio (I keep small quantities that I pre-grind on hand just for cooking). Oven at 200 degrees F to keep the first batch warm while cooking the second. ;o)
 
KR June 13, 2020
oh, that sounds so good! (I only have black pepper, but still) : )