If love was a sandwich, it would be this Chicken Cutlet Sandwich. Tender, golden brown chicken breasts on delicious ciabatta rolls, piled high with sharp cheese, garlicky greens and roasted red pepper mayo. It does not get any better than this!
Are chicken cutlet sandwiches a regional thing? I’m not sure. I just know I’ve never had one anywhere other than in Philadelphia or New York. If chicken cutlet sandwiches are, in fact, regional, then I thank my lucky stars that I grew up in Philly because I don’t think I could live without them.
This Italian-style crispy Chicken Cutlet Sandwich Recipe is my tribute to the incredible sammies I’ve been raised on.
What’s in this sandwich?
The basics of an Italian chicken cutlet sandwich are as follows:
- breaded and fried chicken cutlet, pounded thin
- a sauteed green (usually broccoli rabe)
- cheese (mozzarella and provolone are the most traditional)
- roasted red peppers
- a quality Italian roll to pile everything into
Sounds simple, right? That’s cause it is! All you really need to do is make sure you’re preparing the chicken and the greens correctly. And by correctly I mean the chicken is perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, and the greens are garlicky without bitterness.
How to make the perfect Crispy Chicken cutlets
Now let’s talk strategy. To make a great pan-fried chicken cutlet, a few things are necessary:
- Pound the chicken thin using a meat mallet. If you don’t have a mallet, just slice each chicken breast crosswise to make two thinner pieces.
- Use a three bowl method for breading the chicken: the first bowl has the flour, the second has the egg and the third has the bread crumbs.
- Heat the oil in the pan to medium-low heat. Not medium heat, and not medium-high heat. Crispy chicken must be cooked low and slow in order to get a golden crust and tender meat.
If the oil is too hot, you’ll end up burning the bread crumbs and your chicken will still be pink in the middle. So be patient and take it slow!
What’s the difference between a chicken breast and a cutlet?
All chicken cutlets are breasts but not all chicken breasts are cutlets. A cutlet is simply a thinner chicken breast, one that’s either been sliced crosswise to make 2 thinner breasts or pounded thin. You should be able to cut a properly cooked chicken cutlet with the side of your fork.
How to make this Italian-Style Chicken Cutlet Sandwich Recipe
First, the chicken
Then, cook the greens. Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is a naturally bitter green. It is definitely an acquired taste. For this sandwich, I chose Tuscan kale instead. It’s easier to find at the supermarket and it’s not as bitter as broccoli rabe. That said, there is still a degree of bitterness that we still have to account for.
Blanching Greens to cut the bitterness
Blanching the kale is the best way to cut the bitterness. Blanching is simple – just place the kale into a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then immediately remove it and plunge it into a bowl of ice water. This process will reduce the bitterness and also amp up that beautiful green color.
The best cheese for a chicken cutlet sandwich
We’re using sharp provolone for this sandwich, because I think it’s the best kind of cheese for chicken cutlets. The sliced provolone you’ll find at the deli is not very sharp. What we want here is a block of the sharpest provolone you can find. Grate it yourself, sprinkle it over the chicken cutlets, and pop them in the oven for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
The roasted red pepper mayo
The roasted red pepper mayo is a simple blend of – you guessed it – roasted red peppers and mayo! Make it in a food processor so it’s nice and smooth. Mini Me loves this mayo, and I always make extra to keep in the fridge. It’s so yummy for dipping French fries.
Now, all that’s left is to assemble your beautiful Crispy Italian Chicken Sandwich. Spread the mayo generously onto the bread.
Top with the chicken cutlet…
… and then the greens. Bada bing, bada boom.
What to serve with a chicken cutlet sandwich
What to put on a chicken cutlet sandwich (variations ideas)
Here are some fun modifications to the classic Italian chicken cutlet sandwich that are worth trying:
- Experiment with the greens you use. While broccoli rabe is most traditional, we love Tuscan kale and even spinach. The nice part about spinach is that it’s a mild green compared to the others, so you won’t need to blanch it.
- Try different cheeses. While provolone will always have my heart, lots of people love mozzarella. I’d recommend using a block of mozzarella that you can grate yourself. Avoid fresh mozzarella, as it tends to be watery. Also try other sharp aged cheeses like Asiago and Pecorino Romano.
- Like a little heat? Stir 1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper into the roasted red pepper mayo for a little kick.
- Change up your protein. Instead of chicken breasts, try boneless, skinless chicken thighs or even veal cutlets.
How to Reheat a Chicken Cutlet Sandwich
Leftover chicken cutlets can be wrapped in foil or placed in an airtight container and refrigerated for another day. To reheat, place the cutlets in a single layer on a baking sheet and reheat in a warm oven. Avoid reheating in the microwave, as it may cause the cutlets to become soggy.
When you make this Chicken Cutlet Sandwich Recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more delicious sandwich recipes, try these:
- Chipotle Chicken Melt with Avocado
- Hot Honey BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Crispy Onion Strings
- Classic All-American Burger Recipe
For more chicken recipes, try these:
Chicken Cutlet Sandwich Recipe (Italian Style)
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale
- 8 oz. sharp provolone cheese grated
- 1 loaf ciabatta bread
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup roasted red peppers
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Combine the mayonnaise and roasted red peppers in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Rinse and dry the kale. Boil a large pot of water and set up a large bowl of ice water. Place the kale into the boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Remove and plunge immediately into the bowl of ice water until cool. Drain.
- Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the kale and red pepper flakes and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the chicken breasts crosswise so that you have 4-5 thinner pieces. Place between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound thin using a mallet. (Omit this step if you don't have a mallet.)
- Heat remaining oil in the skillet over medium-low. Pour flour into a shallow bowl, then beaten egg into a second bowl and bread crumbs into a third bowl. Dredge each chicken breast in flour, then beaten egg mixture, then breadcrumbs. Place into the skillet. Cook until golden on each side, flipping after 6-7 minutes. Do not crowd the pan. Repeat the process with remaining cutlets.
- Remove from the pan to cool on paper towels
- Grate the cheese and sprinkle over the chicken cutlets. Place the cutlets onto a baking sheet. Warm in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes, to melt the cheese.
- Slice the loaf of ciabatta crosswise. Spread with the roasted red pepper mayo. Layer on the chicken and wilted greens. Slice into four sandwiches.