This is the forty-third installment in Mucho Gusto, a recipe initiative by and for students to help connect us through food in times of isolation. If you’ve got a recipe you think would make a great addition, reach out to us!
Milanesas de Pollo (Chicken alla Milanese) is the perfect representation of my mixed Italian and Argentinian heritage. Though a simple breaded chicken, this dish has so much to offer. It has been a staple of my childhood. While many children in the United States grow up eating chicken tenders, I grew up on Milanesas de Pollo, or Chicken alla Milanese. Since my family is part Italian and Argentinian, this meal is one that is found in both sides of my heritage. They have similar cooking processes but are served in different forms.
Commonly known as chicken parmigiana, Italian Chicken alla Milanese is typically served covered in a marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and accompanied by a side of pasta.The phrase alla milanese means cooked in the style of Milan, which happens to be the birthplace of my grandfather. However, there is a historical controversy on the origins of the purportedly Italian dish. The Austrians believe that they were indeed the founders of the dish, with their schnitzel, but the northern Italians claim that the Austrians plagiarized it from them.
The Argentinian Milanesa is considered the unofficial national dish of the country. Argentines love eating anything with meat, in any shape or form. When Italians immigrated to Argentina and introduced their alla milanese recipes, Argentinians were soon delighted by the treasure. They began to develop their own versions of the dish – a slice of ham and fried egg on top, and one of the most popular variations being Sanguich alla Milanga. Sanguich alla Milanga is a french baguette sandwich filled with a Milanesa of any selection of meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. Another popular Argentinian play on the dish is to eat it with puré de papa – mashed potatoes.
In my family, milanesas are the perfect solution to any missing meal at a family gathering. While this dish is sure to please any of the appetites, it is also quite simple to make and does not require much creativity. It is extremely versatile and can be eaten in many different scenarios. It makes the perfect main course at dinner, cold snack at the beach, base for a sandwich, or star of a kid’s boxed lunch.
- 1 package of chicken breasts (about 4 pieces)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp of chopped parsley
- ½ tsp of salt
- ⅛ tsp black ground pepper
- 3 cups bread crumbs (preferably Panko)
- 3 eggs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil and spray the foil with oil to avoid sticking.
Cut the chicken breast in half lengthwise. To do this, place the chicken breast on the cutting board with the smoothest side facing down. Place the palm of your non-cutting hand on top of the chicken breast. Use a sharp knife to slice horizontally through the side of the chicken breast until you have two separate thin pieces. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the sliced pieces of chicken breast, and use a meat pounder to smash the chicken so that each piece becomes fully tenderized. If you do not have a meat pounder, you can use any tool that resembles this tool. For example, I used the back of a lemon squeezer. This step is critical so that the chicken does not become dry when it is being cooked.
Once all the pieces of chicken are tenderized, remove the plastic wrap and season by massaging each piece of chicken with garlic and parsley and sprinkling salt and pepper to taste.
Crack the eggs into a deep plate. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper to the eggs while whisking them. Pour the bread crumbs into a separate large deep plate.
Now the assembly process begins. First, dip a piece of seasoned chicken into the whisked eggs. Flip the chicken piece as you are dipping it into the whisked eggs to ensure that the piece of chicken is evenly coated. Next, use a fork to lift up the chicken, and place it onto the plate with the bread crumbs. Like the eggs, make sure that the chicken piece is evenly coated in the bread crumbs. This may require you to get your hands dirty by pressing the crumbs to stick onto the chicken. Place the pieces of breaded chicken onto the prepared baking tray. Spray them with oil for further crunchiness, and place the tray into the oven for 30 minutes or until the corners are golden brown.
These milanesas are accompanied well with any condiment and any side of your choice or even be put into a sandwich. My go to condiment choice is Dijon mustard with a little bit of mayonnaise, and my go-to side dish is a sweet potato puree. Enjoy!