Across the globe the deliciousness that is the crispy texture of a fried chicken thigh is called by many names: schnitzel, Milanese, tenders, but no matter the name, if you prepare, fry, and serve these crispiest chicken cutlets from Smitten Kitchen the right way, you’ll be tempted to give them a new name yourself.
Though the recipe only takes about 45 minutes to an hour to prepare, it’s done with meticulous attention, providing you and your dinner guests with a relatively simple weekday meal that won’t break the bank and may have the potential to beat out the nearest fast-food chicken tender based on texture alone.
- 1 ½ pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ cups of plain breadcrumbs (homemade or panko-style)
- Oil for frying
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- (Optional) Additional Seasoning such as a spice blend or garlic and/or onion powder
- Before cooking your chicken remove it from its packaging and pat it dry on all sides with a paper towel. This will remove any unwanted moisture and prep the chicken for efficient breeding. If you’re satisfied with the thickness of your cutlets, you can arrange them on a large kitchen sheet tray and season all sides with salt, pepper, and any additional spices you’d like. If you’d like your cutlets to be thinner before seasoning you may pound them flatter by placing half of the cutlets in a gallon-sized freezer bag and beating it with a kitchen mallet.
- Grab a wide, shallow bowl and crack your egg into it, removing any shell pieces as needed. Beat the egg with a forkor whisk until the mixture of egg white and yolk is “very loose.” Fill another wide bowl with your breadcrumbs, and place both bowls beside your sheet tray of chicken.
- Taking no more than one piece at a time, dip a chicken cutlet into your beaten egg, let the excess egg drip off, and then dip both sides into the bread crumbs. Press both sides of each cutlet into the crumbs, ensuring that they’re each completely coated, and then repeat this process with all the pieces.
- Grab a large frying pan, and pout just under ½ inch of oil into it and heat the oil over medium-high. You’ll know when the oil is ready when a thermometer placed in it reads 350°F or when the oil hisses loudly when a drop of water is flicked into it. Begin by placing your first few breaded cutlets into the oil, keeping them as apart as possible. If they are too crowded at the beginning of the frying process, the temperature will lower significantly and lead to heavier, greasier chicken.
- Fry each chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on one side and 3 to 4 minutes on the reverse side or until both sides aregolden brown. Once a cutlet is finished frying, remove it from the oil, let the excess drip off for 10 to 20 seconds and place it on a baking tray atop paper towels or paper bags. If you’re without a baking tray, you can simply put the pieces atop folded paper towels to absorb the excess oil. No matter the cooling surface, you’ll want to season the cutlets with salt on each side while they’re still sizzling hot. This timing is key, as it allows the salt to form tightly to the cutlets once they’re finished frying.
- After all your cutlets are cooked, dispose of your frying oil through safe, legal methods and plate the cutlets for serving! You can spruce up this meal by adding some chopped herbs on top, some fresh lemon zest, or you can even make a little dip by combining together a dollop of mayonnaise, a squirt of whole-grain mustard, a dash of hot sauce,a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
If you prepared too many breaded cutlets or ran out of frying oil, know that uncooked, breaded chicken cutlets can keep in the refrigerator for only up to a day, but fried, cooled cutlets can keep up to three days. To reheat, the best method is by placing the cooked cutlets in a 350°F oven until they’re hot and crispy.
As you can clearly see, the cooking method of these breaded chicken cutlets is meticulous without being overbearing, allowing you to find your own frying rhythm. Don’t be discouraged if your first few pieces dropped into the oil are discarded; it’s all a learning process and often a delicate balance between cooking time and batter texture. Besides, once you try even a lesser-than crispy chicken cutlet, you will hardly be able to wait until your next attempt!
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