The Cotoletta alla Milanese is probably the most popular dish of the Lombard cuisine. A tasty, thick veal chop bone-in breaded and pan-fried! Unfortunately, the popularity of this has been pushed several cheap variations, very far from the original delicious Milanese cutlet. Here the authentic recipe and the history of Cotoletta alla Milanese!
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ORIGIN OF COTOLETTA ALLA MILANESE
When and where the Cotoletta alla Milanese has been invented? The Historian Pietro Verri affirm in his book "History of Milan" (1783) that this tasty steak was served for the first time the 17 of September 1134 during a banquet organized by monks to honor of the memory of Saint Ambrogio, protector of Milan. On that occasion, it was called Lombolos Cum Panitio.
One of the most curious and controversial tales maintain that in origin Cotoletta alla Milanese was breaded with powdered gold! This theory is less incredible that what might seem: indeed, into the Medieval medicine, gold was considered healthy and curative, and often used as an ingredient into the nobles kitchens!
Italian and Austrian chefs and culinary historian continue a protracted dispute for ages about what was invented first: the Italian Cotoletta alla Milanese or the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel? Conflicting legends and documents still have not solved the question, so the only way to get out the discussion is relaxing and enjoying both recipes!
ITALIAN COTOLETTA VARIATIONS
The term Cotoletta derives from the Italian word Costoletta (That means rib): this is because the traditional Cotoletta alla Milanese is absolutely bone-in.
Besides the Traditional Cotoletta, another version is the Orecchia di Elefante (Elefant ear): the veal chop is deboned and butterflied, then flatten with a meat tenderizer, and finally breaded and fried. Despite the popularity of the Orecchia di Elefante, this version is often despised from the purist foodies. Actually, this variation is very similar to the Austrian Wiener Schnitzel.
Another popular variation is the Cotoletta sandwich, a classic of the Service station beside the Highway: it could be a tasty snack, but often is disappointing...
Even if less famous of the Milanese version, another classic Italian is the Cotoletta alla Bolognese. The meat of the Bolognese version is typically pork: a thin steak is breaded and fried, then covered with cheese and ham, then lightly wet with meat broth and finished into the oven. Into the rich version of this recipe, the cotoletta is garnished with truffle slices.
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
WHAT KIND OF MEAT? - To prepare traditional Cotoletta alla Milanese, choose veal chops 1 to 1.5-inches thick, bone-in.
WET BRINE - The traditional method does not require any brine. Personally, I prepared a wet brine 6 hours in the fridge into a solution made with 3 tbsp of table salt per Qt of water: the result has been excellent! After the brine, it is critical dry perfectly the steak surface before proceeding with the breading.
WHAT KIND OF FAT? - To fry the Cotoletta, use unsalted butter. Some chefs prefer to use clarified butter.
WHAT KIND OF BREAD? - The tradition requires only fine grain breadcrumbs. Sometimes I used Japanese Panko instead of breadcrumbs: it has been an interesting variation.
WHAT KIND OF TEMPERATURE? - The ideal internal temperature of Cotoletta alla Milanese is medium rare to medium (135° F to 150° F) depending on your taste.
COTOLETTA ALLA MILANESE RECIPE
- PREPARING THE VEAL CHOPS
You want your chops frenched. So, cut away any trace of fat from the border of the steaks and on the bone. Then, scrape the final part of the bone with a knife until clean.
- WET BRINE (OPTIONAL)
The traditional method does not require any brine, so if you prefer you can skip this step. On the other hand, the wet brine tenderizes and give more flavor to the meat. If you want to prepare the brine, proceed in this way:
Mix 3 tbsp (50 g) of table salt every Quarter of room temperature water, then whisk until the salt is completely dissolved. Now, place the veal chops into a bowl or a box and cover them entirely with the brine solution. Cover the bowl and store in the fridge 6 to 24 hours. Before proceeding with the recipe, dry the steaks to perfection with kitchen towels.
Pour the flour and the breadcrumbs, into two different plates. Then crack the eggs into another bowl, and wish them until smooth, but not fluffy.
Now, flour the first chop evenly keeping the bone clean. Then, immerse the chop into the egg mixture, and finally, bread with breadcrumbs. At this point, place the steak on a board and add more breadcrumbs if necessary. Proceed with the other chops in the same way.
- FRYING THE COTOLETTA!
Now, take a skillet big enough to contain the veal chops and place it over medium heat. At this point, melt the butter, then add the steaks and pan-fry them. You want to set the heat in order to slowly obtain a crispy crust, and cook the meat medium rare to medium (about 15 to 20 minutes) flipping the chops every 3 to 5 minutes. Pay attention because during the first minutes the crust is particularly fragile.
- SERVING COTOLETTA ALLA MILANESE
Once cooked, place the cutlets over paper towels to dry the fat in excess, then serve immediately, paired with grilled vegetables or French fries!
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