Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a mainstay often mired in mediocre cooking, don’t have to be as dry and flavorless as they often are. Chicken milanese requires little more than a few staple pantry items and quick heat to transform chicken breasts into something crispy, juicy, and utterly delicious. It takes up a bit of counter space, but it’s quick and easy, making it a top contender for upscale weeknight cooking. It’s usually served with a punchy salad of arugula or other greens dressed in a light vinaigrette, but I like it with broccoli rabe (pictured here, in the background, drizzled with browned butter and balsamic vinegar).
Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Dijon mustard and/or a good grainy mustard
Bread crumbs (homemade are best, but use what you have)
1. First, flatten the breasts: Place a chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap or in a large freezer bag. Place it on the counter top and use a rolling pin, heavy skillet, or a meat pounder (if you have a multi-surface meat tenderizer, the flat surface it what you want) to pound the chicken breast, flattening it until it is about 1/2″ thick. You want to make this as even as possible for even cooking. Set the breast aside and repeat with the other three breasts.
2. Once the chicken breasts are flattened, lightly season them with salt and set aside. Now grab three plates and a wide, shallow bowl. On the first plate, place a couple cups of flour mixed with a few pinches of salt. In the bowl, place about 4 egg whites and a couple teaspoons of mustard, then beat together with a fork until the whites are broken up and a bit frothy. Set that beside the plate of flour.
3. Pour the bread crumbs onto the second plate (you can season them however you’d like- garlic, herbs, or whatever suits you) and place that next to the egg whites. Place the empty third plate next to the bread crumbs (this will be to place the breaded chicken breasts on while they wait for their turn in the skillet).
4. Grab a cast iron skillet or other heavy skillet and place it on the stove. Heat a couple tablespoons each of butter and olive oil over medium/ medium high heat. While that heats, grab a chicken breast and lightly but thoroughly dredge it through the flour, then generously through the egg white, and finally through the bread crumbs, making sure to fully coat it in crumbs and press them into the meat a bit. Set the breaded breast on the empty plate and repeat with the other breasts.
5. Place the breasts, one or two at a time to avoid crowding, in the hot skillet and cook until golden on both sides. Because they are pounded thin, it won’t take long for them to cook through, so be mindful of overcooking. It’ll only take a couple of minutes on each side. Maintain the heat to avoid burning the breading. Once they are fully cooked, serve immediately, preferably with a simple salad of peppery greens.