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.
Ingredients – Serves 4
- 4 veal cutlets, cut as thick as the bone, preferably loin
- 2 eggs
- Large ground bread crumbs
- 100 g butter
- A lemon
Nick the cutlet membranes so that they do not curl up when cooking and beat them flat with the tenderizer. Put the eggs in a bowl and beat well. Dip the cutlets in the beaten egg one at a time, taking care to keep the “handle” or bone out.
Now dredge the meat in the breadcrumbs, pressing down with the palm of your hand so that the crumbs stick properly and do not come off during cooking.
Heat the butter in a shallow pan wide enough to hold all the cutlets. As soon as the butter begins to foam, arrange the cutlets in a single layer. Take care not to brown the butter and not to raise the heat too much. Cook for 7-8 minutes on each side so that the cutlets are still soft and golden. Sprinkle a little salt on the cooked side and finish cooking the other side. Place them on a serving dish and garnish with lemon slices.
Milanese cutlets are also excellent eaten cold.
The current trend in summer (with no roots whatsoever in tradition) is to serve the cutlets with a concassé of fresh tomato.