Serves 6 or more if serving small eaters under 4 years of age
I make a platter of these crumb-coated baked morsels for the kids when they come over because I know they will enjoy them and be nourished. But I notice most of the adults take a piece too. The cutlets have the crunchy appeal of fast-food style fried “nuggets” and “fingers,” but they are better in every way.
- 2 pounds turkey breast cutlets or “tenders,” or skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 plump garlic cloves, sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling on the cutlets
- 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for the baking sheet)
- For the Cheesy Crumbs
- 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
- 3/4 cup Grana Padano, freshly grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Rinse and dry the breast pieces and trim off all fat and tendons. Slice the meat (with the grain rather than across it) in strips roughly 2 inches wide and 4 inches long: you should get 10 to 15 pieces. Pound thick or uneven pieces, if necessary, with a meat mallet or other heavy flat object so they are an even 1/2- to to 2/3-inch thick.
2. Put the strips in a bowl and toss them with the salt, garlic slices, and olive oil. Let them marinate for at least 15 minutes, though preferably 30 minutes, at room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, set a rack in the upper third of the oven—nearer to the top for browning—and heat it to 425°F.
4. Toss and stir together the bread crumbs, grated cheese, parsley, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt until thoroughly blended. Lightly butter the baking sheet.
5. When the meat has marinated, lift out a few pieces and pick off the garlic slices. Drop the strips in the crumbs and roll them around, then pick them up one by one and press the crumbs so they stick to the meat on both sides. Try a one-hand technique: scoop up a turkey strip and crumbs in the palm of your hand, then close your fingers and squeeze tight.
6. Lay the coated strips flat on the baking sheet spaced at least a 1/4 inch apart. If you see bare spots of meat, press on a few of the remaining crumbs. Drizzle a bit more olive oil on each strip and put the pan in the oven.
7. Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate the sheet back to the front, and bake for another 8 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown on top and the meat is cooked through but still moist. Cut a piece open to check doneness. If the crumbs are browning quickly while the meat is still uncooked, set the tray lower in the oven and/or lay a sheet of foil on top of the cutlets. Don’t let them overcook, and move them to a platter as soon as they come out of the oven so they don’t dry out on the hot baking sheet.
8. Serve hot or warm. They are still very good reheated and make great sandwiches.
Help pound turkey cutlets; blend together the ingredients for cheesy bread crumbs; butter the baking sheet; coat the cutlets in breadcrumbs (be sure to wash your hands carefully after touching the raw meat!) by tossing the strips in the bowl and patting them so the bread crumbs stick; and place the breaded tenders on the buttered baking sheet.