Sauteed Chicken Cutlets


Common wisdom is that expensive cuts of meat cook quickly with minimal effort, while cheap cuts require long and sometimes laborious cooking.   Sautéed chicken cutlets are the exception that prove that rule:  They are cheap, fast and easy to prepare and they can be sliced and used for the ubiquitous chicken Caesar salad or, with minor adjustments contained in the recipes that follow, turned into a simple dinner.  Note that:

  • Chicken cutlets must be uniformly thin throughout so that they cook quickly and evenly.  Buy skinless, boneless chicken breasts and place them between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap or freezer paper.  Using a meat pounder, a rolling pin, the bottom of a small cast iron skillet or the bottom of a wine bottle, lightly pound the chicken to ¼ inch thickness. (You may find “thin-sliced” chicken cutlets at your grocery, which may eliminate the need to pound.)  Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • If you’re making dinner, have all of the ingredients measured and prepped before you sauté the chicken so that you can move quickly while the chicken is still hot.
  • Heat a large, heavy skillet or a grill pan (if you want the nice grill marks) over moderate heat until hot.  Brush the pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and add two or three cutlets  (do not crowd).  Cook 2 minutes, turn with tongs, and cook other side until cutlets are just cooked through, about 2 minutes more.  Transfer to a platter with tongs and loosely cover with foil.  Add a second tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and repeat with more chicken breasts. Continue until all the chicken is cooked.
  • As an alternative, you can grill the chicken on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.
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