One of my go-to, “oh shit I need a protein to go with pasta” dishes that I turn to time and time again is the cutlet, either with chicken or pork. Sometimes we’ll have them as our first course because the pasta dish I’m making is more extensive, or we’ll have them standing by to be an easy meat course to tie up the meal. Sometimes they will pinch hit when I’m looking for something quick and fast during the week, though usually they are a Sunday night tradition.
Usually we’ll do the flour-egg-breadcrumb standing breading procedure when making cutlets. Sometimes they’ll get a nice marinade like we do with these Macau-style pork chops before they go to the dredging but usually it’s not even that complicated.
That is, until we tried Michael Soloonov’s chicken schnitzel in Israeli Soul.
What he does that is so notable is he skips the flour and instead soaks his chicken breasts in an egg bath that has been spiked with spices (in his case, his Hawajj blend). Sitting in the egg mixture for at least four hours up to overnight, this allows the chicken to get tender and juicy. It blew our minds, and it got me thinking of what else we could do, and I thought of doing a fra diavolo-style herb and spice mixture and what that would entail, so I decided to give it a go.
Reader, it rocked, and it’s so damn easy that you should give it a try yourself.
All you do is make a spice blend, and here’s what I put into mine:
- Mustard powder
- Crushed red pepper
- Pimenton picante
- Dried parsley
- Garlic powder
I went with a teaspoon of each for everything save for the crushed red pepper, which got two. (It is supposed to be devilishly hot, after all.) I didn’t add any salt because we didn’t want the pork to pickle, and instead the chops and the breadcrumbs were seasoned well with salt during the assembly phase.
The spices really go to work in the egg bath, and these are definitely the most flavorful pork cutlets I’ve made in a while. I definitely want to try some other variations, but in the meantime, I encourage you to try these for yourself.
Pork cutlets fra diavolo
Inspired by a technique from Israeli Soul by Michael Solomonov
- 4-5 thin pork chops
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp pimenton picante
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- Olive oil, for frying
- Flaky sea salt for finishing (optional)
- Lemon wedges for serving (optional)
- Chiffonade of basil leaves, for serving (optional)
Place one pork chop on a cutting board and cover with a piece of cling wrap. Pound with a meat mallet until it is about 1/8th inch thick, place it on a plate, and repeat with remaining pork chops.
To prepare the egg marinade, add the eggs to a glass baking dish (think a standard Pyrex dish) and whisk them well to combine. Add the seasonings (not the salt) and again, whisk well to combine. Place the pork cutlets in the egg bath, using tongs so that you can flip them a few times to coat well. Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to overnight.
When it’s time to cook, take the dish out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. In a shallow bowl, add the panko bread crumbs and add the two teaspoons of salt. Set up a breading station in which you have one plate on each side of the breadcrumbs: one to place the cutlet on for seasoning with salt, and one for putting the fully-dredged cutlet ready for frying.
Taking each cutlet out one by one, season it on both sides well with salt, and then dredge the cutlet on each side with the panko breadcrumbs. Place on the clean plate, and repeat with the remaining cutlets.
In a large skillet, heat about ¼ inch of olive oil (not extra-virgin) on medium high, and add the cutlets in batches when the oil sizzles. Cook for about 90 seconds on each side, and then remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Finish the cutlets, if desired, with flaky sea salt, a chiffonade of basil, and/or lemon wedges for serving and serve immediately.