If I can cook it, you can cook it And I'll travel the world to bring it back home to you.

Cooking School 101: Making a perfect Milanese. And a Fennel Bacon and Apple Salad to serve with it.


Chile’s Chicken Valdostana
 “Milanese” is god’s gift to people who love fried food but are afraid to admit it.  This easy-to-conquer technique coats meat with crunchy, crispy bread-crumbs. The meat is dipped in flour, then in egg and finally in breadcrumbs.  Originally, I tasted it as a “Cotaletta di Vitello alla Milanese”, a restaurant favorite Veal chop that eventually became so expensive; I shifted over to Pork Chops.   In Argentina, I sampled the dish with beef, its most popular form there. In Chile, a version called “Valdostana” adds melted cheese and a slice of ham. And despite everything Austrians tell you, Wiener Schnitzel, their national dish, is a variation of Milanese.
Dana Cowin has been the Editor of Food and Wine Magazine for 21 years.  Last Fall, she announced she was leaving to take a job as Chief Creative Officer of Chef’s Club International, a restaurant group with ties to Food and Wine.  Ms. Cowin’s last issue of the magazine will be its March issue.  Her farewell is also an opportunity to plug her last book, “Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen” (Harper Collins 2014). The book contains a stunning confession. For years, Ms. Cowin’s attempts at home cooking were met with disastrous results. She decided to chose her 100 favorite dishes and then enlist professional chefs to teach her how to cook.  Because Ms. Cowin wields a mighty pen, she was able to attract everyone from Thomas Keller to Alice Waters to help her learn to cook.  So it was that last Fall, she teamed up with Ann Burrell, TV chef and hostess of “Worst Cooks in America” to tackle Milanese in Food and Wine.
Cowin and Burrell in Food and Wine

Despite its presence in “Mastering My Mistakes”, the dish is very simple to prepare and wonderfully rewarding when done right. The secret Ms. Burrell revealed to Ms. Cowin had to do with how to bread it properly.  In the past, Ms Cowin’s hands were became so laden with bread crumbs, she couldn’t adequately coat the Chop. Ms. Burrell taught her how to use one hand for the initial dip into flour before dipping the chop into the eggs. At this point, the switch is made over to other hand which completes the dip into the breadcrumbs.  A word about the breadcrumbs: Use Panko, the Japanese bread crumbs responsible for Japan’s version of Pork Milanese, Tonkatsu!  The big difference between panko and ordinary western breadcrumbs is that Panko is made from bread without crusts.  They are then ground into airy, large flakes, which give fried foods a light crunchy coating.  And they stay crispier longer than standard breadcrumbs because they absorb less grease.
         Mastering Milanese should be breeze if you follow this recipe. I found that the best pork chop for this is one with the bone in.  Trader Joe’s sells Frenched Pork Chops which are ideal.   And to complete the picture, I served it with a warm salad, I made while the chops sat in the oven before being served.  This salad brings together flavors that work beautifully with pork.  The apple, of course is a well-known companion to pork.  Fennel, red onion and the smoky goodness of bacon combine to make something just perfect to scatter over your finished Milanese.  And all this goodness takes all of 45 minutes start to finish.  Here are the recipes:

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