We recently spent eleven days driving around the island of Sicily, and though I’ll always remember the gorgeous scenery we enjoyed from coast to coast, it is the food that impressed me the most. Sicilians eat well; there is no other way to say it. With fruit and vegetable stalls on every other corner, fresh seafood stores everywhere, and the most fantastic outdoor markets that sell anything under the sun, even the everyday person has access to the best ingredients. We love seafood, and ordered it often during our trip, but every so often, I like to change it up. Though I am not a red meat kind of girl, I do enjoy a well-cooked chicken dish.
While staying in Syracuse for two nights, I thought it was a good idea to venture out and visit the three Unesco town of Ragusa, Monica, and Noto in one day. Unfortunately, the major highway that used to run across lower Sicily was wiped out by mudslides, so you are forced to travel small state roads that meander through every small town along your route. The trip took all day, but we did mange to visit all three towns! Our first stop was Ragusa, and after climbing up and down the many staircases to visit Ragusa Ilba (the lower town), it was time to think about lunch. I had picked out a trattoria in Modica so we made our way there next to try and locate our chosen dining spot. After parking and walking through wind and rain, and asking for directions from some locals, we finally discovered our restaurant, only to find it closed for the month while the chef traveled. It was a Monday, so many other restaurants were closed, and we walked the streets of Modica looking for somewhere we could get a decent lunch. We ultimately came across a small local trattoria run by an older couple that looked interesting. We ventured inside and were very pleased to see that all the folks dining there were locals. We ordered a couple of courses each, and though my Pasta alla Norma was tasty, it was my Cotoletta alla Palermitana that I remember best. The chicken cutlets were lightly breaded with a breadcrumb coating that contained chopped pistachios and the fried cutlets were served with lemon wedges. The chicken was golden brown, very moist, and simply delicious.
Almonds and pistachios are found in many Sicilian dishes, and add a unique flavor and texture to anything. I knew I wanted to make these easy chicken cutlets at home but wanted to add a little something to make them even more special, so I created a sauce that contains olive oil, lemon, capers, and pistachios. After the cutlets were baked and plated, I drizzled a little of the sauce on top just before serving. The cutlets were delicious with the addition of the sauce, and I served them with some diced potatoes and sautéed greens. I baked my cutlets, but you could pan fry them on top of the stove if you preferred as both methods will work just fine.
Deborah Mele 2016
- 2 Medium Sized Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts
- 1 Cup All-purpose Flour, Seasoned With Salt & Pepper
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 Cup Milk
- 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Breadcrumbs
- 2 Teaspoons Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Raw Pistachio Nuts
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
- 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Juice of 1 Large Lemon
- 1 Tablespoon Salted Capers, Rinsed Well
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 1/3 Cup Raw Pistachio Nuts
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Preheat oven to 375 Degrees F.
- Cut the chicken breasts into three pieces lengthways, then pound with a mallet until equal thickness.
- Place the seasoned flour in a plastic bag, and one by one drop in each chicken cutlet, tossing to coat.
- Place the eggs and milk in one bowl and beat until blended.
- Place the breading ingredients in another bowl, and stir to combine.
- Line a 13 x 9 inch sided baking sheet with foil, and coat with the oil and butter for baking.
- Dip each floured cutlet, first in the egg mixture, then in the crumb mixture.
- Line the breaded cutlets side by side in the prepared pan, then bake for 10 minutes.
- Turn the cutlets over, and bake another 8 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
- While the cutlets are baking, place the sauce ingredients into a small blender and pulse until finely chopped, but not smooth.
- Arrange the cooked cutlets onto a platter, then spoon some of the sauce on top.
- Serve, offering additional sauce at the table.