Cotoletta di Pollo
In January of 1998, Marco left his family, friends, work and Italy to move here to the Boston area and live with me. How hard this must have been for him! How devastating for his mother! In her life and culture, children moved out only when they got married. Then, they established their new family just 5 or 10 minutes down the street!
Marco’s mother sent two items with him: a cookbook, “La cucina facile di Suor Germana“, and a little wooden good luck charm.
The cookbook is like the Betty Crocker of Italian cooking. It is our Italian cooking bible, our “go to” when we just don’t know what to cook. In the introduction, Suor Germana says, “L’amore è vita, così come il cibo ailmenta la vita e regala gioia, attraverso il cibo possiamo parlare al cuore.” “Love is life , like food it nourishes life and gives joy, through food we can speak to the heart.” His mother sent him with all her love and with her desire to nourish his life with food and love. It’s no wonder that the archetypal Italian mother embodies this wonderful marriage of food and love!
She also sent this good luck charm that sits on a bookshelf in our living room:
Remember, this was ’98. . . way before she was ready to hear about her son marrying a man. . . before she had any inkling that we would soon have her only grandchild. . . before our marriage was a legally recognized union. . . and way before Italy as a culture even deals with its LGBTQ citizens. . .She gifted a good luck charm that had been given to them, Enzo and Adelina, wishing them a long life of wedded happiness!
Comfort, for me, is found in the love of family embodied in our home together. Even more, it exists as we sit around the table for our meals. As Suor Germana states, life itself is built upon the love we share and food nourishes us in such a way that love expresses itself in the meal. Marco and I often strive to cook our meals with love and we can often tell when our hearts just weren’t in it. . .
We have a Monday night meal that we prepare and eat pretty faithfully. It is our comfort food; our way of coping with the transition to a new week; a simple meal that each one of us relishes. It’s our take on a classic Cotoletta alla Milanese.
The original is bone-in veal chop, thinly sliced, dipped in egg and bread crumbs and fried in clarified butter. It hails from Milan and is often compared to wienerschnitzel of Germany. Variations on the classic include chicken and pork. In Lombardia, it is the closest thing Italian children have to our chicken nuggets.
Marco’s mother made her version of Cotoletta throughout his childhood and now makes it for Matteo. It’s simple:
- Take a chicken cutlet and pound it out so that it is quite thin and dip in a whipped egg.
- Then, dip in bread crumbs and it’s ready to cook. (Marco’s mother sautés the cutlet in olive oil. We typically bake it at 425 for 15 minutes)
- Serve with a simple Boston lettuce salad garnished with olive oil and salt.
- And add any other side that you’d like. (full disclosure – – we cheat here and it’s the one item per week that we do not make from scratch – – we serve with Alexia Onion Rings for us and the same brand of fries for Matteo)
We look forward to our Monday night comfort Cotoletta and after you try it, you might too!