Also known as cotoletta (cutlets), from the French côtelette, this is one of Milano’s oldest traditional dishes, although Austrians also claim to have created it with their Wienerschnitzel (which is actually haunch instead of sirloin).
It is mentioned as lumbulus cum panitio, or breaded veal loin, in a document from the year 1148 preserved in the Sant’Ambrogio Basilica.
Its preparation requires for the veal chop to be tenderized (although not too much – it should not be thinner than the bone), then covered in breadcrumbs after being dipped in beaten eggs, which helps the breadcrumbs to stick properly. Finally, it is cooked in a pan using melted, clarified butter.
For purists, there are some very strict rules: only the first six cutlets from milk-fed veal sirloin are considered suitable for this recipe as they are neither too fatty nor too lean and the primary requirement for a true cotoletta alla milanese is for it to include the bone.
As hinted above, there is some rivalry between Milano and Austria over the origins of cotoletta. However, it is almost certain that the Austrians came across the recipe during their occupation of Lombardy and Veneto. A letter from Austrian commander Radetzki to the emperor Franz Joseph seems to confirm this. He describes the recipe of a certain cotoletta so that the sovereign may taste such a delicious Milanese dish as well.