Cutlet Workshop

Thinly Sliced Protein Makes Its Own Sauce

Thin cuts of boneless chicken, turkey, beef, even tofu and portobello mushrooms offer a quick core protein.

Cutlets are from a variety of meats—void of bone and thinly cut or pounded—promote fast sautés and pan sauces. Certain types of cutlets are pounded extra thin, the French call them “paillards.” These are extra thin as they are coated with herbs and/or nuts that might otherwise burn if too thick. In most the recipes below cutlets are sliced 1/3 to 1/4 inch thick without pounding. Using a meat pounder or other heavy, flat object can create paillards very simply. This will produce cutlets about 1/4-1/8 inch thick.

I just learned another technique for a tastier result: scarify one side of the cutlet with a knife to create many jagged edges which will caramelize along those edges and provide additional flavor.

These dishes make for a quick sauté and usually a sauce is fashioned from the pan drippings.


  • Herb Crusted Chicken Paillards
    • Planned Over Tacos
  • Saltimbocca – Chicken with Prosciutto Ham & Sage
  • Scaloppini – Chicken Cutlet in Lemon-Caper Sauce
  • Gilded Paillards– Meat, Tofu, or Mushrooms with Ground Nut Melangé
  • Balsamic Glazed Chicken – Hot Chicken Atop Cold Salad
  • Teriyaki Glazed Cutlets– Japanese Umami Glaze
  • Southeast Asian Cutlets – Cilantro-Pepper-Fish Sauce
  • Souvlaki Salad – Greek Chicken Atop Cold Salad; go here
  • Chicken Marsala – a Classic dish; leave this page and go here

OVERVIEW: I mostly use chicken breasts, but also use boneless, skinless thighs, turkey tenderloins, and when in a vegetarian mood, slices of pressed, firm tofu or whole portobello mushrooms

PROTEIN PREP TEMPLATE: All these recipes utilize this pounded cutlet method

  • breasts 4-5 half breasts it the base amount for the following recipes, or consider boneless-skinless thighs, or firm tofu
  1. Slice the breast into about 1/3″ thick slices by laying it flat on a cutting board and keeping the knife parallel to the board—you will get two or more cutlets per breast half
  2. For thighs, cut them open by butterfly slicing, so it lies mostly flat then slice into 1/3″ thick slices
  3. For tofu: drain and slice into 1/4″ sections then press in toweling using a heavy pan for 15 minutes—you do not need to pound tofu
  4. For portobello mushrooms, remove stem and lightly score hatch marks, learn here
  5. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the meat slice and gently pound, using a meat pounder or other flat heavy material like a cast iron skillet: pound lightly in a motion slightly down and away from you: to direct the meat to splay away in that direction, then continue until the slice is uniformly about 1/4″ thick



A Dredge and Sauté with Fresh Herbs

Herbed Paillards in Butter & Sherry Sauce
  • salt and pepper – generous season the chicken
  • parsley – Italian is best, 1/2 cup [chopped, then measured]
  • fresh herbs – 1/4 cup, marjoram, rosemary, mint, thyme or other combos
  • scallions – 6 small, minced
  • olive oil – for sautéing
  • sherry, dry – 1/4 cup [or other fortified wine; marsala, madeira
  • butter, cold – 2 TBS, cubed
  1. Season both sides of the paillards generously with salt and pepper
  2. Chop the parsley, mince the scallions along with the other herbs, and combine well on a plate
  3. Spray each paillard with oil and dredge thoroughly in the herb mix
  4. Heat a large skillet with olive oil until medium-hot then lay in the paillards without moving them around at all, then sauté for a couple minutes on each side [leaving them untouched in the skillet on the first side allows them to brown better]
  5. Remove to a platter and cover, then add the butter and sherry to the skillet and stir to lightly thicken
  6. Pour sauce over the paillards and keep warm

Chicken Cutlets are Perfect Planned-Over for a Quick Taco Meal

Recipe adapted from East Meets West by Ming Tsai


SALTIMBOCCA: Italian Classic

Chicken Cutlet with a Pinch of Sage and a Slice of Prosciutto for an Unmatched Triangulation of Flavor

Saltimbocca Translates as a Hit in the Mouth: This Simpler Version is My Way to Make It Week Night Friendly
  • chicken breasts or boneless skinless thighs – about 4-5
  • prosciutto ham slices – 4-5
  • sage, rubbed – 4-5 pinches
  • salt and pepper –
  • flour – 1/2 cup
  • olive oil – 3 TBS
  • white wine, dry – 1/2 cup [vermouth or sherry]
  • cold butter – 2 TBS, chunks
  • parsley – for garnish
  1. Prepare the chicken into thin cutlets [see above master section]
  2. Lightly season each cutlet with salt and pepper [the prosciutto is salty]
  3. On one side of the cutlet sprinkle with rubbed sage and lay on a slice of prosciutto, then trim to match its shape
  4. Dredge the other side of the cutlet in flour and lightly shake
  5. In a large skillet over medium heated add the oil and sauté the cutlets, ham side down, for 2-3 minutes and flip then continue to cook until done; remove from pan and keep warm [repeat with remaining cutlets]
  6. To the empty skillet bring heat up and add wine and reduce by half, about 2-3 minutes
  7. Stir in butter, a few pieces at a time so it doesn’t break, to create a velvety sauce
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and pour over cutlets

PHOTOS: I pounded chicken tenderloins and arranged them so the prosciutto will cover and bind them in the sauté stage. Served with sautéed mushrooms, brown rice, and braised kale



Classic Flour Dredged Cutlet with a Lemon-Wine Pan Sauce

  • chicken – 4-5 skinless, boneless breasts [or thighs]
  • salt – 1 tsp
  • pepper – 1/2 tsp
  • flour – 1 cup, for dredging
  • olive oil – 2 TBS or more
  • white wine – 1/2 cup
  • lemon juice – 1/4 cup
  • capers – 1/4 cup, rinsed
  • butter – 2 TBS, cold, diced, or 1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 TBS water
  • parsley – 2 TBS
  • lemon wedges – served with dish
  1. Prepare the chicken by pounding into 1/4-thick slices, about the size of your open hand
  2. In a large skillet add the oil and bring to high-medium heat
  3. Dry the cutlets with toweling and season well with salt and pepper
  4. Dredge the chicken in flour and shake off excess
  5. Sauté the chicken until cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side and place in a 200º oven to keep warm
  6. Complete sautéing the chicken and remove and add to the oven
  7. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pan and scrape the pan to combine all; cook for a couple minutes
  8. Off heat stir in the butter and the capers
  9. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan and coat the chicken
  10. Adjust seasonings, then top with parsley; serve with lemon wedges



A Comforting Nut and Herb Crust

  • chicken – 4-5 breasts, or thighs, boneless and skinless
  • nuts – 3/4 cup, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts or other
  • garlic – 1 clove, finely minced
  • parsley – 1/4 cup, chopped
  • rosemary – 1 TBS fresh, or 1 tsp dried
  • parmesan – 3/4 cup
  • salt – 1 tsp, to season the chicken
  • pepper – 1/4 tsp, to season the chicken
  • mustard – dijon style, 4-5 tsp
  • olive oil – 2 TBS
  • fortified wine – 1/2 cup: Marsala, Madeira, Sherry, or white wine
  • butter – 2 TBS, cold pieces, [or 1 tsp cornstarch in 2 TBS water]
  1. Prepare the protein so they are 1/4-inch or so in thickness
  2. In a food processor fitted with a blade, add the nuts and process until they are about the size of steel-cut oats
  3. Combine the nuts with the garlic, parsley, rosemary, and parmesan
  4. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper
  5. Spoon on a tsp of mustard atop one side of each chicken cutlet
  6. Spoon on the nut mixture to cover and pat down gently
  7. Preheat a large skillet with olive oil and sauté each side for 2-3 minutes and warm in a 200º oven, keep the skillet heated
  8. Add the wine to the skillet and scrape the pan and cook for 30 seconds.
  9. Off heat, add the butter and swirl then add back in the chicken and collected juices
  10. Serve warm
Served with High Roast Carrots and Brown Rice



The Heat of the Meat Wilts the Greens

Piping Hot Cutlets Atop a Bed of Cold Salad Greens to Wilt and Make Luscious

This recipe also works well with portobello mushrooms, tofu, and tempeh

    • chicken breasts – 4-5, sliced
    • salt & pepper – season the chicken well
    • olive oil – 3 TBS
    • baking soda – 1/8 tsp [pinch]
    • garlic – 1 tsp
    • olives, kalamata – about 8
    • tomatoes, cherry – about 8, halved
    • balsamic vinegar – 3 TBS
    • salad greens – 8 cups, divided on four plates
    • salt – 1/4 tsp
    • pepper – 1/8 tsp
    • basil, fresh 1 TBS or 1 tsp dried
    • olive oil – 1 TBS
    • balsamic vinegar – 1 1/2 tsp
  1. Prep the chicken into 1/4 inch thick cutlets and season with salt and pepper
  2. Prep the salad and keep chilled
  3. Heat a large skillet and sauté chicken in oil 2-3 minutes per side and keep warm
  4. Add the garlic, olives, tomatoes, and vinegar and reduce for a couple minutes
  5. Add back in the chicken and coat well
  6. Meanwhile, arrange the greens on four plates and place next to the skillet and toss with salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar [or arrange salad on community plate]
  7. Right out of the skillet place the cutlets on the greens and spoon the sauce on top
  8. Garnish with basil and serve

Teriyaki Chicken Glaze:

Classic Japanese 3-Ingredient Pan Sauce

With Tofu Cutlets

This Sauce is also Excellent for Tofu, Tempeh, and Portobello Mushrooms

  • chicken breasts – 4-5, cut into 1/3 to 1/4 inch thick cutlets
  • potato starch – 1/2 cup, [or corn starch, or tapioca starch]
  • neutral oil – 2 TBS
  • ginger – 1 tsp, grated, [optional]
      • soy sauce – 2 TBS
      • mirin – 2 TBS [or dry sherry with 1 tsp sugar or honey]
      • sake – 2 TBS [or dry sherry]
  • scallions or chives – for garnish
  1. Prepare the chicken and season with salt and pepper
  2. Preheat a large skillet with oil
  3. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the potato starch
  4. Sauté the chicken 2 to 3 minutes per side and remove from skillet and keep warm
  5. Add the and sauté 30 seconds
  6. Add in the teriyaki sauce and under medium heat reduce to a glaze, a few minutes
  7. Add the chicken back in and toss to coat
  8. Serve topped with scallions or chives


Equally Great with Tofu, Portobello Mushrooms, or Tempeh

Fish Sauce + Cilantro + Garlic + Peppercorns = Asian Magic

There is delicious funk in this dish. Welcome to fish sauce! There is a classic Hot & Sweet Sauce that perfectly balances the dish

  • chicken breasts – 4 -5, sliced into 1/4 inch cutlets
      • cilantro stems – 3 TBS, finely minced
      • garlic – 6 cloves, finely minced
      • peppercorns – 2 tsp, crushed
      • fish sauce – 1 TBS
  • potato starch – 1 cup, [or corn starch, or tapioca starch]
  • neutral oil – 2 TBS
  • hot & sweet sauce – 1/2 cup [plus more for dipping]
  • cilantro – for garnish
  1. Prepare the chicken
  2. Make the marinade; it’s best to use a mortar and pestle to create a paste of the marinade
  3. Rub the marinade over the cutlets and rest for 30 minutes up to 4 hours; reserve any marinade for step 5
  4. Make the hot & sweet sauce
  5. Capture most of the marinade clinging to the chicken and add to the reserved marinade
  6. Dredge the cutlets in the starch
  7. Heat a large skillet and add the oil, sauté the cutlets 2-3 minutes per side
  8. Remove to a serving platter and keep warm
  9. Add the hot & sweet sauce to the skillet and simmer until a sauce forms
  10. Pour pan sauce over warmed cutlets
  11. Top with cilantro and serve with additional hot & sweet sauce

2022 Recipes developed by B. Hettig

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