As I mentioned earlier this week, I recently received a review copy of Susan Russo’s new book, The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches: Recipes, History, and Trivia for Everything Between Sliced Bread.
Of course, like most folks, I love a good sandwich, so I spent a good part of last weekend making a variety of sandwiches inspired by Russo’s book—the Philly Chicken Cheesesteak, the All-American Classic Breakfast Sandwich, the Waldorf Salad Sandwich, and today’s featured recipe, the Italian Chicken Cutlet Sandwich. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
In truth, I wasn’t sure what I thought about the Encyclopedia of Sandwiches the first time I flipped through it—do I really need a recipe for Tomato Sandwiches, PBJ or Grilled Cheese? But then I realized the point of this book isn’t the recipes. Instead, I realized that Russo (aka Food Blogga) was trying to showcase the variety of sandwiches we’ve developed since the Earl of Sandwich requested the very first sandwich back in England in 1762.
All in all, The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches is a great reference and base recipe book. It’s definitely one of those books where you can build off of the recipes to make your own unique creations. Russo delves into the history of the sandwich, as well as the history of the individual sandwiches featured in the book, which makes this a great book for culinary historians or those who just like nerdy food facts. And, if you’re sick of the same-old, same-old ham and cheese sandwich, this book is chock full of inspiration.
One very small mistake I did notice (actually, Doug did—within 5 seconds of opening up the book) was that eggs were missing from the opening Ingredient Index. We’re big fans of breakfast sandwiches—and anything involving eggs, fried or otherwise—so we thought this was a crucial omission. Fix that, and we’ll be happy as clams.
Now, back to that supremely delicious Italian Chicken Cutlet Sandwich. A chicken cutlet is basically chicken that’s been pounded thin, breaded and fried—and who doesn’t love that? Russo’s recipe called for topping the chicken cutlet sandwich with sautéed broccoli rabe, but I decided to go for the more traditional sautéed peppers and onions, which are much easier to find, too. If you don’t want to sauté up the peppers and onions, top your sandwich with some pepperoncini or giardiniera instead.
Italian Chicken Cutlet Sandwich
I adapted this recipe from one that appeared in Susan Russo’s Encyclopedia of Sandwiches. It makes 4 sandwiches. You can find Panko breadcrumbs in the Asian aisle of your local supermarket. You can either buy chicken cutlets at the store or pound out chicken breasts with a meat mallet at home. Just place the chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap before you pound it. Click here to download a PDF copy of this recipe.
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
2 Tbs. milk
½ c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 c. Panko breadcrumbs
4 (4- to 6-ounce) chicken cutlets, about ½-inch thick
1 c. jarred marinara sauce
4 hoagie or ciabatta rolls, split lengthwise
8 slices mozzarella or provolone cheese.
Sauté the onions & peppers. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. oil. When it’s hot, add onions and peppers. Sauté until veggies are soft and partly browned, 7-10 minutes.
Prepare cutlets. In a wide shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Mix the flour, cayenne, garlic powder, kosher salt and black pepper in another shallow bowl; place the breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl. In a large skillet, pour in enough vegetable oil to come ¼-inch up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil over medium heat. In a small saucepan, heat the marinara sauce over low heat.
Fry cutlets. Meanwhile, one at a time, dip chicken cutlets into flour. Shake off excess. Dip the cutlet into the egg wash, allowing excess to drip off. Dredge the cutlet in the breadcrumbs, coating evenly. Cook the cutlet in the hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove the cutlet from the oil and place on a wire rack set on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Put two pieces of cheese on the cooked cutlet. Repeat with the remaining cutlets.
Build sandwich. Place a chicken cutlet on each roll. Spoon on some of the marinara and top with some sautéed peppers and onions. Eat immediately.