|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:
Pork Chops Milanese with a Fennel, Bacon and Apple Salad
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups panko
Four Bone-In Pork Chops, pounded thin to at most 1/2 inch thickness
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
For the Fennel, Bacon and Apple Salad:
4 bacon slices (4 ounces), cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1 Fennel Bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small red onion, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup apple cider
2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 200°. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels.
2. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. Put the flour and panko in 2 separate shallow bowls. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour,
3. then dip in the egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl.
4. Switching hands, dredge the coated pork in the panko, pressing lightly to help it adhere.
5. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil until shimmering. Add a breaded pork chop and fry over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes; transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chops and when finished, transfer the pork to the oven to keep warm.
Now make the Fennel Bacon and Apple Salad:
1. Wipe out the skillet and heat the 1 teaspoon of olive oil in it. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the fennel and cook until slightly opaque and softened.
2. Add the onion and cook until it softens. Add apples and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apple just starts to soften, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the apple cider and vinegar and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Put the apple mixture into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.
4. Transfer the pork Milanese to plates, top with the salad and serve right away.