Are chicken cutlet sandwiches a regional thing? I’m not sure. I just know I’ve never had one anywhere other than in Philly or New York. Or if I have, it wasn’t memorable enough to have stuck. 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 Crispy Italian Chicken Sandwich 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:
- fried chicken cutlet, pounded thin
- a sauteed green (usually broccoli rabe)
- sharp provolone cheese
- 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. Let’s talk strategy:
How to make the perfect Crispy Chicken
To make a great pan-fried chicken cutlet, a few things are necessary:
- Pound the chicken thin using a 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 breadcrumbs.
- Heat the oil in the pan to medium-low heat. Not medium, and not medium-high. 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 breadcrumbs and your chicken will still be pink in the middle. So be patient and take it slow!
How to cook the greens in this Crispy Italian Chicken Sandwich
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 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.
Now, all that’s left is to assemble your beautiful Crispy Italian Chicken Sandwich, pour yourself a beer and dig in – Philly style!
If you make this sandwich and love it, let me know about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment down below. Enjoy!
Crispy Italian Chicken Sandwich
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 5 cups Tuscan kale
- 1/2 lb. sharp provolone cheese sliced
- 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.
- 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. (Just omit this step if you don't have a mallet.)
- Heat remaining oil in the skillet over medium-low. Dredge each chicken breast in flour, then beaten egg, then breadcrumbs. Place into the skillet. Cook until golden on each side, flipping after 6-7 minutes.
- In the last minute of cooking, melt the provolone cheese on top of each piece of chicken. Remove from the pan to cool on paper towels.
- Slice the loaf of ciabatta crosswise. Spread with the roasted red pepper mayo. Layer on the chicken and wilted greens. Slice into four sandwiches.