Shift Into Fall With These Crispy Chicken Cutlets That You Can Make Ahead

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Fried chicken is a universal crowd pleaser.  Crispy skins and juicy middles, it makes both kids and adults happy, and is a great go-to option when feeding finicky eaters. Wings, drumsticks, breasts, fingers, nuggets – fried chicken comes in many forms. I have been experimenting with boneless chicken lately, trying to find a way to keep the meat from drying out, while enhancing its flavor.

And I have found it! Chicken cutlets, pounded thin, dipped in an eggy mayo, then rolled around in toasted panko breadcrumbs spiked with mustard and garlic powders, and finely grated Parmesan, do the trick. The pounding breaks down the protein and fibers, rendering the meat juicy and soft when cooked.

This recipe from Epicurious is easy, uses items you most likely already have in your refrigerator and pantry, and the finished breaded cutlets can be frozen up three moments after prepping them. You just pop them into at 450-degree oven for about 15 minutes. So, when you have time, be kind to your future self and make a bunch of cutlets for the next time you have surprise dinner guests, a band of hungry rambunctious kids, or the nightly finicky eater whom you can never seem to please.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 lb. skinless, boneless chicken cutlets, pounded ¼” thick (for smaller pieces, quarter cutlet before pounding)
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Tbsp. mustard powder, garlic powder, finely grated Parmesan, or dried herbs (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk egg yolks, mayonnaise, and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Add chicken and turn several times with tongs until evenly coated.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Add panko and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to get around the edges to incorporate darker breadcrumbs, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then stir in mustard powder, garlic power, Parmesan, or dried herbs, if using.
  3. Using tongs, place a cutlet in skillet. Pat surrounding toasted panko onto cutlet with one of your hands, pressing firmly to adhere. Turn and repeat on the other side with more breadcrumbs. Lightly shake off excess breadcrumbs. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet (if you are making these ahead and freezing, skip wire rack and place directly on a baking sheet). Repeat with remaining cutlets, spacing evenly apart on baking sheet.
  4. Discard any remaining panko. At this point, breaded cutlets can be frozen up to 3 months. Freeze chicken on baking sheets until firm, about 1 hour, then transfer to resealable freezer bags or layer in an airtight container with sheets of parchment between cutlets.
  5. Preheat oven to 450°F and bake cutlets until cooked through and juices run clear when pierced with a knife, around 10–12 minutes. If cutlets are frozen, they will take a little longer, closer to 14–16 minutes. If you prefer using a toaster oven, then bake chicken 1 or 2 at a time at 450°F, directly on the rack placed in the middle of the toaster, for around 12–14 minutes.

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