Veal Milanese is a fried breaded veal cutlet or escalope, a typical recipe from Milan called Cotoletta alla Milanese. It is usually served with an arugula salad and/or french fries. Some restaurants in Milan serve a huge cutlet also called Elephant Ear, larger than the plate in which it is served.
What Milanese means
Any meat can be made "Milanese Style", chicken, beef, pork, but the classic dish is made with veal rib.
It is a dish often ordered by children, but adults love it too.
Milanese means from Milan, therefore Veal Milanese has no similarity with Risotto alla Milanese which is made with saffron and beef broth. There is nothing in common between the two recipes, just the city of origin.
In the 1850 General Radetzky loved it so much that brought the recipe back into Austria and called them dish Wiener Schnitzel.
In the veal Milanese the breadcrumbs can be plain, however in the Italian cooking books from the 1820, there is a reference to "French breading" made with plain breadcrumbs and "Milanese breading" where breadcrumbs is mixed with grated Parmesan cheese.
I prefer the later version and like to mix the breadcrumbs with Parmesan, basil and garlic.
Which cut of meat to use
The classic Veal Milanese is made with veal rib with in-bone but it can also be made with escalope which is a top rump or flank steak without the bone.
While Milanese is traditionally made with veal meat (calves), it can also be made with beef, chicken or pork.
In either cuts, the meat is tenderized with a meat hammer and the slice of meat made very thin. Ask your butcher to do that for you.
If you want to know more about cuts of beef names and how to use them, you can read my article: Cuts of Beef for Barbecuing
How to prepare Veal Milanese
- The cutlet is seasoned with salt and nutmeg
- It is then dipped into a beaten egg.
- The veal is then coated with breadcrumbs mixed with a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese, ½ crushed garlic and few shredded basil leaves ( found out more on my article: Grated Parmesan and Breadcrumbs)
- Fry the veal on both sides
Traditions of the recipe
If you noticed, the Veal Milanese is NOT previously coated into flour as it usually done with other breaded and fried food. Why? I don't know!
Some recipes claim that the cutlet should be breaded twice, but the Italian cooking bible Il Talismano della Felicita, claims that it is a trick used by restaurants to make the meat look thicker
I just make sure the meat is properly coated and that is enough for me.
How to cook it
The classic veal Milanese is fried in butter, and cooked until the breadcrumbs are golden and crispy. Since the butter has a low burning temperature, it risks burning when heated for a long time as the veal Milanese requires.
There are two options to increase the temperature at which the butter burns, and to cook the veal to perfection:
- Clarify the butter by removing the white organic particles
- Add some olive oil
By using either one of those options, you will have a perfectly cooked meat without burning the butter. I usually use the second as it is much quicker.
How to make clarified butter
- Melt the butter in a pan
- The white granules will start to separate from the oily part
- Remove them with a sieve spoon
- Once all the white particles are removed the butter is clarified
How to serve it
Once it is ready, serve it directly on a plate. Garnish with arugula and fresh tomatoes seasoned with salt and extra virgin olive oil.
The freshness of the tomatoes and peppery taste of the arugula give a nice contrast to the buttery taste.
While you may be tempted to eat it with ketchup, refrain! In Italy, we drizzle some fresh lemon juice.
Baked instead of frying
If you want to try a lighter version of the traditional Milanese, you can try to make the Palermitana cutlet.
The meat is coated with breadcrumbs but it is grilled or baked in the oven instead of fried.
In this recipe I make it using chicken breast instead of veal: Easy Healthy Baked Breaded Chicken Breast.
On a similar concept, I also make Braciolette: breaded baked meat or swordfish rolled into small braciole.
They are crunchy on the outside and tender in the inside. Children love them and they are much more healthier than the fried one.
A vegetarian version of the Milanese
If you have some vegan or vegetarian guests at your party, you can easily make a vegetarian version of the Milanese for them.
You can find on the blog the recipe for Eggplant Milanese, but you can also use Porcini mushrooms or squash.
Milanese is called a recipe originated from the city of Milan. However in more general terms it is used for a dish where the main ingredients is breaded and fried. Although that is not always true as you find many Milanese recipes that are not breaded nor fried. For example risotto alla Milanese is a risotto made with saffron, Osso buco alla Milanese is a meat stew with bone marrow.
Veal is the meat from calf, normally male who are not used for breeding. The meat is rich and lean, covered with a light layer of white fat.
No, in Italy we would never make this combination. You can eat the pasta as a starter, then the veal Milanese with a salad or chips on the side.
More of my favourite fried recipe
If you are craving for fried food, you may want to check out these other recipes:
- Deep-Fried Eggplant Balls
- Fried Zucchini Flowers Recipe
- Fried Pizza
- Pasta a Frittata: Italian Fried Pasta
- Fried Calamari Recipe
- Italian Fried Dough Crispelle
- Rissole à la Dauphine
- Homemade chicken nuggets recipe
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📋Classic Veal Milanese (Cotoletta alla MIlanese)
- Prepare the breadcrumbs by mixing them with the Parmesan, crushed garlic and finely chopped basil2 cup breadcrumbs, 3 leaves fresh basil leaves, 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan, ½ clove peeled garlic cloves
- Tenderize the veal meat with a meat hammer to make the slice as thin as you can. You can also ask the butcher to do that for you2 slice veal rib
- Season with salt and nutmegsalt, freshly grated nutmeg
- Beat the egg and dip the veal cutlet1 fresh eggs
- Coat the veal with breadcrumbs mixed with grated parmesan
- In a frying pan melt the butter and add a tablespoon of olive oil. The olive oil will keep the butter at high temperature without burning it½ cup butter, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Fry the veal cutlet on one side
- Turn the other side once the breadcrumbs are gold and crispy
- Once it is cooked serve on a plate
- Garnish with arugula and tomato salad seasoned with salt and extra virgin olive oil
- Drizzle some fresh lemon juice just before eating it1 teaspoon lemon juice
- The classic Veal Milanese is made with veal rib with in-bone. The meat is tenderized with a meat hammer and the slice of meat made very thin. Ask your butcher to do that for you.
- the Veal Milanese is NOT previously coated into flour as it is usually done with other breaded and fried food.
- I always have a bag of breadcrumbs flavoured with basil, garlic and Parmesan in the freezer. You can find more on the article: Grated Parmesan and Breadcrumbs
- Some recipes claim that the cutlet should be breaded twice, but the Italian cooking bible Il Talismano della Felicita, claims that it is a trick used by restaurants to make the meat look thicker
- The classic veal Milanese is fried in butter, and cooked until the breadcrumbs are golden and crispy. Since the butter has a low burning temperature, it risks burning when heated for a long time as the veal Milanese requires. To avoid this add some olive oil to the butter.