So the most delicious things in life are the simplest ones. One such delight is the Pollo alla Milanese which is basically chicken breast beaten well to flatten it and then served with spinach and a tomato sauce but then Christmas is all about love is it not?
Well it actually goes back to the 26th when I was tryign to meet my deadline and was in a flurry of typing , listenign analsyizing etc and then the phoen rings and here si what happened:
H: "Where are you Manjari?" Me: " I am in my house why?" H: "Come out please" And holy Mother of God there he was standing in front of my house , my lanky bear of a husband. Well with his beard and all he can pass of as a bear , a lanky one at that standing with his luggage and a rose. Between transit to his hometown the dear man had made a stop and demanded that i immediately accompany him which was not possible since I had a deadline and a Christmas celebration which had been anyways fashionably postponed . With precious little time left since we came to an agreement of my traveling on the 30th I knew that a Dundee cake and whole roast would not be possible what with packing and all and so I decided on a simple recipe which did not require the oven.
So this cotoletta as the Italians would say might have originally been made of veal but i have read in blogs by people from that land of culinary delight that chicken is also acceptable hence from Cotoletta alla Milanese it becomes pollo (chicken) alla Milanese. Well authentic cotoletta is a cutlet fried bone in but i did get my chicken breasts all deboned from the butchers and used the bone for a fantastic stock for later usage .
Christmas is definitely all about relationships and so I had originally planned on the Pomodoro (tomato) sauce and spinach tossed around with garlic and olive oil but since I was going away I could help ask my best friend which sauce she would prefer and she said she would want the white based sauce and so the dish finally came to represent the Italian flag. My dear friend and cousin gobbled up both sauces and from the way they were engrossed in the dish I can say that my Christmas was most definitely a wonderful one. Now Bechamel sauce is essentially French but add a bit of nutmeg and Parmesan and you have Italian white sauce
Anyways the most obvious reason for choosing this lovely dish is because of its sheer simplicity and here is what you do
Use 1 chicken breast per person and flatten it with a mallet Ah but before that this is what you need
Chicken breast 1/2 per person
Salt and pepper
Homemade breadcrumbs Handful for 2 breasts
1 egg per breast (again the size of eggs vary greatly)
Roughly 50gm all purpose flour per breast
For the pomodoro sauce (Tomato sauce)
8 large plump tomatoes
3 to 4 large sized garlic cloves which when minced should yield about 2.5 tbsp garlic (You see the size of the garlic varies from place to place)
Salt and pepper
2 to 3 tsp red chili flakes
Handful of fresh basil
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the special Italian bechamel sauce
3 tbsp of silky smooth almond paste
3tbsp unsalted butter
3 cups of whole milk
6 tbsp cream
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper
A good handful of Parmesan cheese
For the spinach
I used about 500gm of spinach
3 tbsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper
The recipe is basically very simple.
Start with the sauces . Simple blanch the tomatoes and chop chop chop. Use about 4 tbsp olive oil and saute minced garlic and add the chili flakes and half the chopped basil and quickly add the tomatoes and stir and cook on medium flame till it bubbles and add salt , pepper and the rest of the basil then mash a bit and simmer till you get a thick sauce.
For your white Italian bechamel sauce simply melt the butter and add the smooth nut paste and the milk and quickly add salt, pepper , nutmeg half the cheese and stir continuously so that no lumps are formed to make a smooth silky sauce and then add the other half of the cheese and mix well. You can also first bring the milk to a boil with the nutmeg salt and pepper and simmer it for 5 to 7 minutes then melt butter add nut paste and the flavoured milk and cheese and simmer while stirring continuously.
All you need to do is flatten the chicken a bit and season with salt and pepper and then simply roll around in the flour and then dip in whisked eggs and coat well with breadcrumbs so that no bit is left un-coated and then fry in the olive oil. The flavour of this cutlet comes from the frying in olive oil and this one must never substitute with other oils else it seizes to be Pollo alla Milanese from Italy and believe me the flavour of the olive oil fried cutlet is superb. Here is a little tip with your breadcrumbs. The fresher it is the better it is of course and nothing beats homemade ones but adding a bit of salt, pepper and dried oregano gives an amazing flavour.
Once you are done with the chicken. Simple add 5 to 6 tbsp olive oil to a hot pan and add the minced garlic and the chopped spinach and cook on high heat for not more than 3 minutes to retain the colour and flavour. Over-cooking renders the spinach bitter.
You have your beautiful meal waiting for you and everybody to appreciate