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. 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.
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.
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.
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.