Once you've got your chicken breast pounded out and breaded, it's a snap to cook, says chef Robert Mullooly of The Culinary Institute of America. He preheats a pan at medium heat, then adds enough corn oil to come 1/4 of an inch up the side of the pan. He lets the oil heat up, then drops in a breadcrumb to ensure the oil is hot enough. Since it sizzles and bubbles, he knows the oil is ready (you don't want to put the chicken in before the oil is hot, or it won't brown properly). He places the cutlet carefully in the pan, then allows it to brown. He doesn't shake the pan or fuss with the cutlet, just lets the oil do its work. It generally takes 1 1/2 - 2 minutes per side for the chicken to cook through and take on the golden color you're looking for. When the chicken is done, move it to a plate and blot with paper towels.
For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.
Hi, I'm Chef Rob Mullooly from the Culinary Institute of America, and today I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to fry a chicken cutlet.
To begin, preheat your pan, and you want to get probably a low or medium heat; this way you pour the fat in, and the fat gets hot right away. We're going to use corn oil today, a neutral-flavored oil that can withstand the heat. A general rule, when you're pan-frying a cutlet, is that you want to make sure you have enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan, and probably about a quarter of an inch up - so you want a generous amount of oil.
Waving my hand above the pan of oil I can feel the heat, and really this is kind of how we check for it. If you put the cutlet in too early, your breading's going to fall off; it'll stay inside the oil. If it's too hot you're going to brown right away, and you won't be able to cook the cutlet. Another little trick you can do is to take a bit of breadcrumb off your cutlet and put it inside the oil: I see movement around the breadcrumb, and that's a sure sign that I'm ready to go. What I wouldn't want to do - and it's a common mistake - is put a couple of drops of water inside the oil. Once you've got water inside your oil, you're going to get splattering all over the place and it becomes a dangerous situation. For testing, stick with the breadcrumb.
Shake off the excess breadcrumb from the cutlet, and you want to gently lay it into this hot oil, again so you don't get splattering. I see bubbles right away: good. A common thing people want to do when they're cooking is they want to move it, shake it - you know, just let the pan do its thing. Let the cutlet brown evenly on one side, and you're looking for indicators that it is browning. I can see some brown around the outside edge, so I'm going to use my tongs to take a look and see where we are, as far as brownness goes. I'm getting a little brown here, but I think I can get a little more. A little later, look at that: beautiful color here, golden brown, I've got good crispy edges here, golden in the center - and I"m looking to do exactly the same thing to the other side.
You should serve it right away at this point - or you can hold it and then reheat it, but there's nothing better than a pan-fried cutlet right out of the oil. We can take it out at this point, and put it on a paper towel to let it absorb some of that fat. A general rule on a cutlet, you're looking at probably a minute and a half to two minutes per side.
So here's a beautiful fried chicken cutlet.