On our second night in Torino, a wonderfully underrated city in northern Italy, we spotted a piazza as if it were out of a movie. There were groups of Italians chatting loudly, apéritivi in hands, the sound of water flowing from the fountain in the center of the square…both of us found ourselves so entranced by this idealistic scene. We sat outdoors at a crowded restaurant and ordered what we saw everyone else eating: veal in Barolo wine sauce and chicken milanese. Both were northern staples; and while the veal in Barolo was decadent and divine, the chicken milanese left its mark on our hearts. It was simply perfect. The crisp, breaded chicken was topped with thinly sliced fresh, heirloom tomatoes, a bed of “rocula”, and a squeeze of bright lemon! The bite was complete. This mark was so significantly imprinted that a week later in our two-week home in Treiso, we attempted to make it ourselves. And oh boy, was it transcendent. We were right back in that piazza surrounded by the buzz of happiness at happy hour. Will it ever be the same as that restaurant in Torino? Who can be sure? But this version is surely a delight—one that seems humble and unpretentious, but after one bite, you’ll find yourselves in Italy…what can be better?
Serving: 2 day-dreaming adventurers
2 chicken breasts, butterflied and pounded thin
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (we use Panko—not traditional, but such a good crunch)
frying oil (we use vegetable oil, but any flavorless oil will work)
1 large heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
2 cups arugula
1 tbs good quality olive oil
1 lemon zested, plus juice of 1/2
1 burrata (optional garnish)
parmigiano reggiano (optional garnish)
salt and pepper
Heat a large skillet filled with oil, half of an inch up the side of the pan, over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350°F.
Butterfly your chicken breasts. Put a chicken breast on a cutting board and, with your hand flat on top of it, use a sharp knife to slice into one side of the breast, starting at the thicker end and ending at the thin point. Don’t cut all the way through. Then open it up, like a book, so it lays flat on the cutting board. Place plastic wrap on either sides of the chicken, and with a meat tenderizer (or a rolling pin if you don’t have), pound the chicken until the meat is uniform and about an 1/8 inch thick. Repeat with other breast.
Set up your dredging station. Put the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs each in their own large flat bowls, and season them with salt and pepper. Scramble the eggs to create an egg wash. Start by putting the chicken in the flour. Cover it completely, and then dust off excess flour. Then, place your chicken in the egg wash, coat it on both sides and drain off excess liquid. Next, place the breast in the breadcrumbs. Coat it completely on both sides. Finally, gently place the breaded chicken in the hot oil. Repeat with other breast.
Cook the chicken on both sides until it is golden brown, about 4 minutes a side. Remove from hot oil and let rest on a tray covered in paper towels or newspaper. Season with salt and grated parmigiano reggiano as soon as it’s out of the oil. The hot chicken will absorb all that wonderful seasoning. Squeeze with a little lemon.
Mix your arugula with the olive oil and lemon juice. Thinly slice your tomatoes.
Plate your milanese by putting the chicken on the plate, first. Then, top with 1/2 of the thinly sliced tomatoes. Then, place 1/2 arugula salad on top. Garnish with burrata, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Repeat with other chicken breast.