Also known as cotoletta (cutlets), from the French côtelette, this is one of Milano’s oldest traditional dishes, although the Austrians also claim to have created it with their Wienerschnitzel (which actually comes from the haunch instead of the sirloin).
It is mentioned as lumbulus cum panitio, or breaded veal loins, in a document from the year 1148 preserved in the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio.
Its preparation calls 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 help the breadcrumbs to stick well. 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 most basic elementary requirement for a true cotoletta alla milanese is that it must include the bone.
There is some rivalry between Milano and Austria over the origins of the “cotoletta”, however, it is almost certain that the recipe became known by the Austrians during their occupation in Lombardy and Veneto. A letter from Radetzki to the emperor Franz Joseph seems to confirm this. He describes the recipe of a certain “cotoletta” so that the sovereign may also try such a delicious and typically Milanese dish.