CRISPY PAN-FRIED CHICKEN CUTLETS

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: Chicken cutlets coated in bread crumbs and pan fried are a staple weeknight meal: They’re quick cooking and a crowd pleaser. But the three-step breading process of flour, egg, and crumbs is fussy, so we set out to make a streamlined version. We ditched the flour step, which made for a more delicate coating. Instead of the usual homemade bread crumbs, we swapped Japanese-style panko that we poured into a zipper-lock bag and crushed with a rolling pin, creating a perfectly even coating. To avoid any spotty browning or burned bits of panko with our second batch of cutlets, we discarded the cooking oil from the first batch and started over with fresh oil. Once done cooking, we transferred the cutlets to a paper towel–lined rack, which helped to wick away excess oil while preventing the underside from turning soggy. To punch up the flavor, we turned east for inspiration and made a Japanese barbecue-style sauce with ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and soy sauce.

Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets (Chicken Katsu)

SERVES 4 TO 6

Be sure to remove any tenderloins from the breasts before halving. The cutlets will be easier to slice in half if you freeze them for about 15 minutes. If you are working with 8-ounce cutlets, the skillet will initially be crowded; the cutlets will shrink slightly as they cook. The first batch of cutlets can be kept warm in a 200-degree oven while the second batch cooks. These cutlets can be sliced into ½-inch-wide strips Japanese style and served over rice with sauce (recipes follow). They can also be served in a sandwich or over a green salad.

2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 large eggs
Salt
4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, halved horizontally, and pounded ¼ inch thick
½ cup vegetable oil

1. Place panko in large zipper-lock bag and finely crush with rolling pin. Transfer crushed panko to shallow dish. Whisk eggs and 1 teaspoon salt in second shallow dish until well-combined.

2. Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge cutlet in egg mixture, allowing excess egg to drip off, then coat all sides with panko, pressing gently so crumbs adhere. Transfer cutlet to rimmed baking sheet and repeat with remaining cutlets.

3. Place wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet. Line rack with layer of paper towels. Heat ¼ cup oil and small pinch of panko in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When panko has turned golden brown, place 4 cutlets in skillet. Cook without moving them until bottoms are crispy and deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, carefully flip cutlets and cook on second side until deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer cutlets to towel-lined rack and season with salt to taste. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat with remaining ¼ cup oil and 4 cutlets. Serve immediately.

Tonkatsu Sauce

MAKES ABOUT ⅓ CUP

You can substitute yellow mustard for the Dijon, but do not use a grainy mustard.

¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Whisk all ingredients together in bowl.

Garlic-Curry Sauce

MAKES ABOUT ½ CUP

Full-fat and nonfat yogurt will both work in this recipe.

cup mayonnaise
¼ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon minced garlic

Whisk all ingredients together in bowl.

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