This classic dish from Milan is quite similar to the classic Viennese Wiener Schnitzel, though it differs in a few ways. Both are thinly pounded veal cutlets, breaded and pan-fried, but the Viennese version is traditionally dipped in both flour and breadcrumbs before frying in oil or lard, while the Milanese version is just bread crumbs and cooked in butter.
Note that there is a difference between a cotoletta alla milanese and a costoletta alla milanese (with an "s") -- the former is a thinly pounded veal scallop, like a Schnitzel, while a costoletta is a bone-in veal rib chop. Both are prepared in the same way, minus the pounding for the chop. The bone-in version is more traditional, but since the pounded scallop is so much easier and faster to prepare, that is the version presented here.
Like Schnitzel, it's traditionally made with veal but you can easily substitute chicken or pork instead.
This pairs well with a green salad for a light, warm-weather lunch or dinner.
[Edited and updated by Danette St. Onge on May 24, 2016.]
- 4 veal scallops or bone-in cutlets
- fine sea
- salt, to taste
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup finely ground breadcrumbs, lightly toasted in the oven
- 3/4 cup salted butter (halve this amount if you use a non-stick pan; traditionally clarified butter is used, you may use that, or
- ghee, if you have it, but it's also fine to use regular butter)
- lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
- sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)
- If using scallops: place them between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and pound with a rubber mallet to about 1/4-inch thickness.
- If using bone-in chops: Trim away excess fat and make small nicks around the edges of the chops with the tip of a sharp paring knife to prevent the chops from curling up as they cook.
- Place the beaten eggs and the breadcrumbs in 2 large, shallow bowls or rimmed platters.
- Pat the meat dry with a paper towel, salt lightly, and then dip each scallop or chop first in the beaten egg, shaking gently to remove any excess, then in the bread crumbs, turning to cover both sides and pressing down to make sure the crumbs adhere. Shake again lightly to remove any excess crumbs.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet and when foaming subsides, add the cutlets and cook quickly over medium to medium-high heat, turning once to brown both sides.
- Serve hot, garnished with parsley and lemon wedges (optional: you can also place a few capers on top of each cutlet when serving).
The wine? A light, zesty red, for example, Giorgio Carnevale's unoaked Barbera or an Oltrepo Pavese.