I’m an Italian gal from New York, now planted & happily growing in the PNW. I’m also a jeweler, a tap dancer, a fitness lover, a foodie, and a cook, not a professional mind you, but my Italian roots require me to know my way around the kitchen. Recreating the flavors and memories of my childhood and sharing these experiences with others is the "Campari to my Apertif", the "Limon to my Limoncello", the "San to my Pellegrino" e'hem, you get the idea...
Reflecting on this past month quarantine, the dark and the light have never been so close. Each of us are going through it our own way. For me, it's hard not knowing when I'll be able to be in the same room as my beloved family in NY and yet "social isolation" doesn't accurately describe my day to day. I’m very social right now. I’ve got mad skills working the phone, Zoom, FaceTime whatever it takes to stay connected, but the “physical distancing” is another story. As an Italian I’m highly sensitive to the physical embrace of a loved one, it's what I miss most and then of course there's not being able to share home cooked meals. Even pre-quarantine I could be very content eating at a restaurant or bar alone, but alone at my kitchen table, NOT SO MUCH.
So, I'm trying something new, a little pivot. I'd like to invite you to my table to share one of my all time favorite childhood meals —Italian Chicken Cutlets. A soul singing savory delight, the kind my mother would swat my hand away from the frying pan ,delicious. Yup, you know what I’m taulkin’ about...(And yes, that's spelled correctly)!
My adaption is a twist on the OG. I’m conscious of what I eat, but stubborn runs in my Italian blood and going without is not an option. My version achieves the same crunchy, salty, red peppery, parsley goodness of my Mom’s pan fried perfection, but is made with nuts and spices, is baked not fried and wait for it….is GLUTEN FREE.
Ok, let’s set the stage.
First imagine my loud, loving family, a long line of Cacciatore and Calzones from Calabria, Southern Italy, where all the Nonni exclaim “La figlia de Tina Cacciatore ….?” (because I look exactly like my mother.) Their presence is our secret ingredient.
Then of course music is key. Crank up your tunes as we prepare - my "go to" is Otis Redding.
Assemble your ingredients, tools and prep
A food processor
3 C Nuts- (pistachios, cashews and almonds are my go to)
2 TBSP Italian seasoning
1/2 TSP chili powder
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP red pepper flakes
1 TBSP black pepper (if you're heat sensitive this can be reduced by half)
2 TBSP turmeric
3 TBSP Nutritional Yeast
3 eggs beaten with 1/2 cup of water
½ C gluten-free flour (I prefer coconut flour)
A baking sheet
A wire rack or tin foil
2 lbs of organic chicken cutlets (or the protein of your choice, really good with firm tofu)
Pre-Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Position oven rack close to the top to finish with a broil
Combine spices and nuts in the food processor. Cover and process on high until the mixture has a crumb like consistency
Pour 'bread crumbs' into a big bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk 3 eggs,
In another bowl add flour
Coat chicken pieces in the flour, then dip in egg, and finish with a good coat in the crumbs. Repeat until all cutlets are covered.
Place wire rack on baking sheet, a rack will get you optimal crispy (optional to line the sheet with tin foil first).
Spray wire rack with cooking oil spray
Place each piece on the wire rack. Spray tops of chicken with a bit of oil
Bake for 15-20 min, depending on your oven. Once chicken looks crispy put on low broil for a few minutes, stay close to the oven, you don’t want to burn it! Let the cutlets rest for about 5/10 minutes before serving.
Accompany with a simple Lacinato Kale (Arugula is great too) and shaved parmesan salad and that’s Amore, my new friends!
Please reach out to me on my IG @denimandtonic with any questions or shares, I would love to see your table too!