Costoletta or cotoletta alla Milanese

Taste the traditional dishes of Milano

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.

The recipe

Ingredients – Serves 4

 

 

  • 4 veal cutlets, cut as thick as the bone, preferably loin
  • 2 eggs
  • Large ground bread crumbs
  • 100 g butter
  • Salt
  • A lemon

 

Nick the cutlet membranes so that they don’t 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 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. Taking care not to brown the butter and not raising the heat too much, cook for 7-8 minutes on each side so that they are still soft and slightly 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 (and it is no more than a trend, with no roots whatsoever in tradition) is to serve the cutlets with a concassé of fresh tomato.