Recipe for Milanese Veal Cutlet

Disclaimer: This recipe is NOT for vegetarians!

The Milanese veal cutlet, or cotoletta alla milanese, is a Milano classic, and it’s not too expensive for anyone on a budget – like college students – since a little bit of meat goes a long way. It’s traditionally made with veal, but if that’s too pricy for you, the veal can easily be substituted with beef, pork chops or even chicken.

The word itself comes from costoletta, meaning cutlet or “rib,” because the meat is cooked with the rib bone still in. The cotoletta is always breaded and usually fried in butter, but it can also be baked in the oven for a lighter version. It’s traditionally served with a lemon wedge to squeeze on top.

Variations on the theme of the traditional dish can be found in many South American countries and the Austrian Wienerschniztel is said to be derived from it as well. No one’s quite sure whether the Austrian dish comes from the Milanese version or vice versa, but people here in Milano usually think it originated here! Either way, the Milanese cotoletta is said to date back to the Middle Ages.


Cooking time: about 20-30 minutes

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 4 veal cutlets with the bone
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g flour
  • 250g bread crumbs
  • 400g clarified butter (better than normal butter because it can cook at higher temperatures)
  • salt
  • lemon wedge for garnish
  1. Make clarified butter: Melt unsalted butter over low heat until three layers form. The top layer will be a white foam (whey proteins), which you should remove with a spoon. The milk solids will drop to the bottom of the pan and form a layer of sediment. In the middle there will be a yellow liquid, which is the clarified butter. Skim off all foam and when it stops bubbling remove it from the heat. Let the butter sit 2-3 minutes to allow the milk solids to further settle to the bottom, and then strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Set aside the strained liquid for use in frying the meat.
  2. (optional) If cutlets are thicker than about 3cm, try to flatten them with a meat tenderizer (hammers always work too, if that’s all you have handy, but make sure it’s clean and/or that you cover up the meat when pounding!). Rinse and dry the cutlets.
  3. Coat veal cutlets, first in flour, then slightly beaten eggs, then the breadcrumbs, then again in the eggs, then breadcrumbs. You can salt the meat before the breading if you want, but some people prefer to add the salt after frying to avoid drying out the meat.
  4. Heat clarified butter at medium heat and fry the breaded cutlets. (If you have a cut of meat with the bone still in, you should cover the bone with aluminum foil so it’s easier to pick up.) Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side. The finished product should be golden brown and crunchy.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and serve with a side of steamed vegetables or salad and a lemon wedge. And enjoy!

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