on the menu ~ milanesas

We can all relate to the wonderful feeling comfort food evokes in all of us.  For me, milanesas is one of those things that brings back many memories of  family meals from my youth.

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This exact meal, chicken milanesas with mashed potatoes and a tomato salad, is the ultimate comfort meal for me.  And I believe that I am also creating the same feeling now for my own family since everybody is happy when I make this for dinner, which in turn makes me a happy momma & cook.

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In Uruguay, where i’m from, milanesas are easily found in eateries all over the place, offered in either beef or chicken.   I customarily only made chicken at home but I always love a good veal milanese in an italian restaurant served with an arugula & tomato salad on top.  Super yum!

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Clearly I grew up eating these regularly but my mom usually cooked a beef variety.  Although I cook many dishes from my childhood and culture they are mostly from memory and my own knowledge & experience as a home cook.   I was not fortunate enough to have my mother pass these down directly to me or teach me first hand but I think I make a pretty mean milanesa and I bet she would be super proud.

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The trick to a good milanesa is a very thin cut of meat.  I buy the thin breast fillets and I still pound them more at home with a kitchen mallet between saran wrap.  A good butcher will also do this for you if you ask them.

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Another key to this dish is to set up a good breading station.  I have my beaten eggs in one container that I season with salt and pepper.  In another container I have my bread crumbs.  I use regular store bought bread crumbs, but I combine all the different seasonings together {plain, Italian and garlic&herbs}.    For my breading process I pass the raw chicken breast through the breadcrumbs first then dip them in the eggs and last a second pass through the breadcrumbs.

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I saute|fry the chicken cutlets in olive oil in a large pan in batches.  Don’t overcrowd your pan while you’re cooking your chicken since you want the breading to crisp up and get to a nice golden color.  I squeeze lemon juice on the cutlets when they are done and keep them warm in the oven while I finish cooking the rest of the chicken.  If you’re lucky enough to have a warming oven in your kitchen you can use that.  If you are using your oven simply set it in the lowest heat setting since you don’t want to cook the chicken further & dry it out.

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The tomato salad is simply dressed with salt & pepper, extra virgin olive oil and lemon, which adds another layer of acid to compliment the chicken, which is a perfect juxtaposition to the creaminess of the mashed potatoes.

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For all these dishes I do not have formal recipes, but instead come naturally to me since I watched my mom cook them at home for years and now I make it for my own family.  I love the culinary circle of life.  The best part is that I’m passing a piece of my heritage and culture onto my kids, which in turn I hope they will pass down to their own families some day.

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“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”
~Mark Kurlansky~

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