When we set out to create the best cutlets, we sought perfectly tender chicken that was flavorful and juicy -- not tasteless and dry -- with a crisp, breaded exterior that stayed put and didn't get soggy. After trying different methods, we found that a mix of panko and Pecorino Romano creates the salty, crunchy crust we crave, while dried spices in both the flour and breadcrumb mixtures ensure that our cutlets are never bland.
Place a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise making 8 roughly equal pieces. (They should look like large chicken tenders.) Place one sheet of plastic wrap on a clean cutting board. Put one chicken piece in the center of the plastic wrap and top with another sheet. Pound the chicken with the flat side of a meat mallet, starting in the center and working your way to the edges, until the chicken is 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Set up a standard breading station: mix the flour, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1 teaspoon onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes if using, if using, in a shallow dish.
Beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon water in a second shallow dish.
Mix the panko, Pecorino-Romano, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, the remaining 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes if using, in a third shallow dish.
Dredge one piece of chicken in the flour mixture, turning to coat evenly. Shake off any excess, then dip into the egg mixture, turning to fully coat it on both sides. Let the excess egg drip off, then press the chicken firmly into the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat on both sides and packing the crumbs into any crevices. Transfer the chicken back to the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
Line a clean baking sheet with a clean wire rack. Heat 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 pieces of chicken and cook until the breading is golden-brown and crisp and the chicken is just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the clean wire rack, season with salt and hold in the oven at 200 degrees F to keep warm. Wipe the skillet clean and repeat with the remaining butter, olive oil and chicken, making 4 batches in total.
Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
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