Back to Basics

Herbed Chicken Cutlets

January 12, 2010


Like last week's meatloaf post, my post this week is inspired by my New Year's resolution to go back to basics in the kitchen. My meat-and-potatoes fiancé loves German food, and wiener schnitzel is perhaps his favorite dish in the world. So one night recently, I decided to attempt a chicken cutlet that could stand up to even the best schnitzel. Ina Garten first introduced me to the notion of adding grated parmesan and fresh herbs to the breadcrumbs when making cutlets, and some time ago I decided I preferred panko to plain breadcrumbs because of the extra crunch. I also find that by pounding the chicken breasts as thin as possible (I just cover them with plastic wrap and have at them with a rolling pin -- very cathartic) and keeping the heat fairly high, I end up with crisp, evenly browned cutlets and juicy, tender meat in under 5 minutes. To aid with the browning and crisping, I like to add a knob of butter to the vegetable oil before frying.

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Confident that I had this one in the bag, I whipped up my signature cutlets, along with some smashed potatoes and green beans. I put the plate in front of my fiancé, and his reaction was exactly what I had been hoping for. Not a crumb was left on the plate. So far, I'm 2 for 2 in resolution land.

Herbed Chicken Cutlets with Panko and Parmesan

Serves 2

  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped assorted fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to about 1/4 inch thick

1. In a wide shallow bowl or pie plate, stir together the panko, herbs, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. In another bowl, crack the eggs, add a pinch of salt and pepper and lightly beat with a fork. In a third bowl, stir together the flour and a large pinch each of salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels.

2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet (I like to use cast iron for this) over a medium-high flame. Add the butter. In the meantime, coat one of the chicken breasts with the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Dip the breast in the egg mixture, and then in the breadcrumbs, pressing them lightly so that they adhere. Set on a plate and repeat with the other chicken breast.

3. When the butter just starts to turn brown, gently lay both of the chicken breasts in the pan, side by side. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown and crispy. Gently turn the chicken over and cook for another couple of minutes, until both sides are evenly browned. Remove the chicken and let it drain on the paper-towel lined baking sheet for a minute or so. Serve immediately, ideally with mashed potatoes and something green.

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Marie F. June 26, 2020
Thank you!
Marie F. June 25, 2020
I am not seeing a "Print" button. I would love to copy this recipe.
Rhonda35 June 25, 2020
No print button because this is an article, not a recipe post (even though the recipe is in the article - confusing but this is originally from 2010 and things are easier to navigate now.) Here is a link to the recipe, which does have a print button. :-)
Kelly A. January 30, 2015
This was spectacular! I guess u wouldn't happen to know how many calories per cutlet would u? Lol
April November 22, 2013
Delicious! It was crunchy and juicy. Will make again. Thank you for the recipe.
aneal000 February 10, 2013
This was absolutely delicious. The crust browned so quickly - and the chicken was still pink - so I put it in the oven to cook at 400 for 10-12 minutes after bot sides had been browned. Perhaps my cutlets were thicker than envisioned by the recipe. Still turned out very moist. My 22-year-old loved it. I served it with a mixed green salad and baked macaroni.
Denise January 18, 2010
What a beautifully simple meal. I love the idea of using plastic wrap + your rolling pin for creating a nice thin chicken breast. Yet another way to use what's already in the kitchen versus purchasing new tools and gadgets.
Merrill S. January 18, 2010
Thank you! I've got to tell you, I love my straight rolling pin.
tucsonbabe January 17, 2010
Another version of this is to add Pimenton to the panko.which gives it some snap. Also, a squeeze of lemon once it is on the plate is mandatory for a real schnitzel. Since the base is chicken, a handful of capers does not hurt either.
As for the panko, find an Asian market and buy a big bag. It keeps forever.
Merrill S. January 18, 2010
Yes, you're right about the lemon! We've done that more often than not -- just forgot to include it in the post. Thanks for reminding me. The pimenton addition sounds great.
kitchengardener January 17, 2010
IN response to the mac and cheese request:
By far my favorite is this one from 10 Arts Jennifer Carroll:
10 Arts Macaroni, Ham and Cheese

Makes 2 to 4 servings

2 cups of cooked elbow macaroni

1 cup of grated Gruyère cheese

1 cup of ground Boar's Head ham (if you do not have a grinder, chop ham to a fine dice)

1 1/2 cups of béchamel (see below)

Milk as needed

1 cup of sourdough bread crumbs (See note)

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Béchamel:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 quart (4 cups) of milk

A pinch of nutmeg

Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Make a white roux by melting the butter and adding flour. Gradually add the milk to the pan, whisking away any lumps. Bring the sauce to a full boil; reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer until sauce is smooth and flour is cooked out (about 20 minutes). Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

3. Warm the béchamel. Add half of the Gruyère. Remove immediately from the heat. The cheese should just lightly melt into the béchamel.

4. Add the cooked macaroni and ham to the béchamel cheese mixture. The consistency should be fairly loose but not soupy. Add milk if needed to loosen. Season to taste with fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

5. Place mixture in a casserole. Top with the rest of the Gruyère cheese and the bread crumbs.

6. Place in oven until the cheese is bubbly and crisp (about 4 to 6 minutes). Do not overcook. It should still be quite moist. Serve immediately.

Note: For the bread crumbs, use day-old sourdough bread slices and let them dry out. Grind in processor or crush in a zippered bag until super-fine. Pass through a fine-mesh tami (sieve) so the bread crumbs are like dust.

Per serving (based on 4): 623 calories, 33 grams protein, 45 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams sugar, 34 grams fat, 114 milligrams cholesterol, 773 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Kitchen B. January 17, 2010
Love this. I've only made Schnitzels with veal, which I pounded thin and then I made some incisions round the edges, which allows the schnitzel stay flat when frying.... Good on you!!!! I am so desperate to make the meatloaf - having never made one before...and can I BEG for a mac and cheese recipe please. That's also on my LOTTT 2010 = List of things to try 2010! LOL
Merrill S. January 18, 2010
I'll have to try mine with the incisions next time -- great technique. Hopefully we'll get a deluge of mac and cheese recipes this week for the contest!
Teri January 13, 2010
My friends and I are going to make our first souffle next weekend. I'm going to make this to go with it!
Rhonda35 January 12, 2010
My mother makes chicken this way (with flour and fresh breadcrumbs, not panko), then she tops it with arugula and ripe tomatoes which have been rough chopped/diced and marinated in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Everything gets a good grinding of black pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. She serves it as a one-dish meal - the meat comes with the salad on top. A wedge of lemon squeezed over finishes the dish. The flavor combination is incredible!
CatherineTornow January 12, 2010
Genius. I made this dish tonight, and will try your mom's version tomorrow.

Merrill S. January 18, 2010
Love the accompaniment. When summer rolls around, I'll try your version for sure.
coffeefoodwrite January 12, 2010
Mmmmmm...this sounds delicious. Can't wait to try it. Love panko bread crumbs. Like the cathartic part of pounding the chicken. I will post a "quick" duck confit with panko bread crumbs that I think you will like. It is served over arugula -- and very light in a duck-y kind of way.

To: AntoniaJames -- I like the "Ians" (All Natural) Panko Breadcrumbs -- you can get them at W.F.'s
Peanut January 12, 2010
My German mother taught me that the flour helps keep the breadcrumbs from sliding off in sheets from the cutlet once it's cooked, and "Don't be afraid of the oil!" The cutlets don't absorb as much oil as you might be afraid they will - and using plenty of oil in the pan really helps brown and crisp the cutlets evenly.
SunnySideUp (. January 12, 2010
this sounds just delicious, particularly with the addition of fresh herbs. i bet it would go well with a simple arugula salad, just like a milanese. thank you so much for sharing!
Merrill S. January 18, 2010
You're welcome!
dymnyno January 12, 2010
I make this recipe all the time after having a similar one from WF deli...I love it with a marinara sauce over it. (not too German)
Kelsey B. January 12, 2010
Great post! Ina's parmesan chicken is a classic in our house. I agree, panko crumbs taste awesome with the this dish. Sometimes I use flavored panko from my local shop or mix up the cheeses to give the flavor a new twist. When I make this I cut one of the breasts into strips for my daughter and call them "chicken fingers" - that is about the closest we get to chicken nuggets in our house. She loves them. Also, I've done this method with veal before and it is delicious, too.
Rhonda35 January 12, 2010
Kelsey - isn't it funny how a child won't eat a giant slab of meat, but if you cut it into more manageable pieces, the same kid will eat all of those pieces and ask for more? I do the same thing for my son, although I am starting to feel like, at age 9, he needs to get over the kid-sized pieces and just eat the chicken already! Remind me I said that in about 2 or 3 years when he is eating everything in sight as he grows.
Kelsey B. January 13, 2010
It's so true! My daughter is only 2 and she is good with a little fork and spoon, but not a knife yet. So we are still big on the finger foods, whether she can eat them with her fork or not! I can see how this trend could continue for a while, there is something about grabbing the food with her hands that she loves. Oh well! I just am happy that someone gave her a McD's chicken nugget once and she spit it out and said "eww, gross." It was a proud moment for me. You are right, when your son's growth spurt hits you'll have trouble just keeping enough food in the house!
mrslarkin January 12, 2010
Yum. Love the addition of parmesan. I'd double the recipe and make a simple chicken parmigiana with any leftovers. My kids love that.
Merrill S. January 12, 2010
Great idea! My fiancé's go-to dinner (that he makes for me) is Chicken Parmesan, and this would be a great way to start the dish.
AntoniaJames January 12, 2010
That's a great idea, Mrs. L!
AntoniaJames January 12, 2010
I've never bought or used panko crumbs before. What is the best kind, i.e., is there a particular brand that you all like? I have a Holier Than Thou (I mean, "Whole") Foods not far from me . . . . plus some other good grocery stores, as well. Thanks!
Kelsey B. January 12, 2010
Antonia - you are missing out! Panko is so awesome to use in lieu of breadcrumbs on some many things! I buy the basic 365 brand at WF myself, they taste good and work well. But, I've also bought a few of the Japanese brands at stores in my area and they are excellent, too. Maybe A+M have particular brand they would recommend. Either way, go buy some! FYI, in addition to breading meats I like to make panko crusts on top of casseroles or stirred into Mac&Cheese - I find them lighter and crunchier than regular breadcrumbs in these instances.
Merrill S. January 12, 2010
I don't have a preferred brand, I'm afraid. I'm an equal opportunity panko buyer!
kirbyfreeman January 12, 2010
Mmmm, this does make me want to hop into the kitchen and get some butter into a cast-iron pan.
A question: what purpose does the flour serve?
I make a version of cutlets without the flouring step and the cutlets still seem delicious. (I just didn't read a recipe before I started making cutlets for my kids a few years ago.) Should I add that step?
Merrill S. January 12, 2010
You know, I do it more out of habit than anything else. Maybe I'll try them without next time!
mariaraynal January 12, 2010
I just got a new cast iron pan, and this will be a great way to break it in. Love it.