Pumpernickel Chicken Cutlets
I'd like to introduce you to a true On the Bias Original, something I've been brainstorming and trialing over the last few weeks, excited to have created something really different and downright fun for you to try... Pumpernickel Chicken Cutlets.
Now you might be thinking, are they just chicken cutlets fried in pumpernickel breadcrumbs instead of regular ones? Precisely correct! But have you ever cooked with or even heard of pumpernickel breadcrumbs? Have you ever used them to coat thinly sliced chicken cutlets before topping them with with cornichon flavored sour cream and radishes? I think not!
What is Pumpernickel?
Pumpernickel bread is a dark brown bread made from the entire rye berry. This differs from light and dark rye breads which are made from portions of the rye berry. (Information taken from The Kitchen's article What’s the Difference? Light Rye, Dark Rye, Pumpernickel, and Marbled)
Pumpernickel bread has pretty intense flavor, so it makes food, usually sandwiches, more flavorful and complex. I love pumpernickel bagels with cream cheese. The strong taste of rye interacts perfectly with creamy, cheese cream cheese
Growing up, chicken cutlet night was always so exciting. My mom didn't fry things often, but she did love to cook up a batch of chicken cutlets. We would usually eat them alongside Pasta Fagioli or, if she was feeling particularly generous, penne vodka. But she certainly never made her own breadcrumbs.
Most Italian Americans I know make their chicken cutlets using Italian style breadcrumbs - the finely ground ones, not Panko. First they dip chicken in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs. Panko, or Japanese style breadcrumbs really are wonderful in many cases, including many chicken cutlets, but Italian style calls for fine breadcrumbs. These pumpernickel chicken cutlets are inspired by Italian style chicken cutlets.
These Pumpernickel Chicken Cutlets call for a loaf of pumpernickel bread, which gets sliced and dried out before being ground it in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. If you like to bake and have time to make a homemade loaf of bread for this recipe, by all means, do that. You can also purchase a loaf of pumpernickel bread like I do. Bread Alone is a bread company local to NY State, and it's in every supermarket in Brooklyn and Manhattan, so I tend to buy theirs.
Techniques for making Pumpernickel Chicken Cutlets
There are 2 primary techniques to this recipe. One lies in the radish salad, and one lies in beading the chicken.
Whenever I make radish salads, I always salt the radishes to draw out some of their moisture and then dry them with a paper towel. This process helps to season the radishes themselves with salt, and also to remove any moisture that might water down your dressing. Lemon juice and vinegar are highly acidic ingredients, but their potency help tame the bitterness of radishes.
Additionally, try cutting the radishes in all direction to make for a more visually interesting presentation and texturally appealing bite.
Wet Hand/ Dry Hand
Whenever you have to bread and fry something, try to use your hands strategically. Designate one hand to coating the chicken in flour and dropping it into the egg mixture without letting that hand touch the egg. Then use your other hand to coat the chicken in the egg mixture and drop chicken into the breadcrumbs without letting that hand touch the breadcrumbs. Finally, use the same hand as you did with the flour to coat the chicken cutlets in the pumpernickel breadcrumbs.
Equipment needed to make Pumpernickel Chicken Cutlets
This is yet another recipe that calls for 2 of my most-used kitchen tools!
Instant read thermometer
The Thermapen MK4 gives you an accurate temperature reading in 1-2 seconds, which is necessary for testing your oil as you fry the chicken cutlets. Remember, try to keep the oil at or below 300F.
All-Clad 3 Quart Sauté Pan
Sauté pans are perfect for frying chicken cutlets because they have flat bottoms and high sides. The 3 quart size is perfect if you're cooking for 2-4 people. If you frequently cook for more Thant 4 people, you might also want a 5 Quart sauté pan.Print
This crispy pumpernickel fried chicken is paired with many pickled briny flavors to make a fun whimsical chicken dish.
For the Breadcrumbs
- 1 lb of pumpernickel bread
- 1 Tb caraways seeds
For the Cornichon crema
- 3 Tb sour cream
- 1 Tb dijon mustard
- 4 Tb cornichon pickle juice
- 1 Tb white distilled vinegar
For the Radish Salad
- 1 bunch of red radishes or 1 large watermelon dish, sliced in all different ways
- The juice of half of a lemon
- 2 Tb white distilled vinegar
- 6 basil leaves, torn or ribboned
For the Chicken
- 2 lbs chicken breasts, thinly sliced
- Canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- 1-2 cups of pumpernickel breadcrumbs
- salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
- 10 cornichon pickles, diced
- To make the breadcrumbs, cut the loaf of bread into ~3 inch cubes and spread it over 2 baking sheets. Place them in a 325F oven for about 45 minutes until all of the bread is completely dry and crisp. (See note 1)
- Allow the bread to cool completely, then grind it in a food processor in batches until fine crumbs form. If some pieces stay large, just crumble those with your fingers afterwards. Place breadcrumbs into a container and set them aside.
- Make your radish salad. Slice the radishes and place them in a mixing bowl with 1 big pinch of salt. Use your fingers to rub the salt all over the radishes, and then let them rest for 5 minutes. The salt will draw out a lot of water, so use a paper towel to pat the radishes dry. Then add the lemon juice, white distilled vinegar, and basil, and toss to combine. Place radish salad in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
- Make the Cornichon Crema by combining the sour cream, dijon mustard, and pickle juice, and season with salt to taste. Place this in the fridge as well.
- Dice the 10 Cornichon pickles and set them aside in a small bowl.
- Prepare the dredging station. In 1 bowl, place 1 cup of flour. In another bowl, scramble 2 eggs and 1 Tb of water. In a third bowl, place 1 cup of breadcrumbs and caraway seeds. Season the flour and breadcrumb mixtures with pinches of salt, pepper, and cayenne. (See note 2)
- Season chicken with salt and pepper, then bread the chicken. Dredge each cutlet first in flour mixture, then egg mixture, then breadcrumb mixture.
- Heat the frying oil. Fill a sauté pan with enough oil to reach 1 inch up the side of the pan, and heat over a medium flame. Allow the oil to come to 270-300F, then fry 2 cutlets at a time, approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Try to keep the oil from going above 300F. (See note 3) Place cooked chicken on a paper towel lined plate.
- Serve the dish on a platter with chicken on bottom, then dollops of cornichon crema, then radish salad, then a handful of diced cornichons. You can serve more cornichons and mustard on the side for people who like extra briny flavors.
Note 1: I recommend making the breadcrumbs earlier in the day or a day in advance since they require baking and cooling time. The bread must be completely dried out and then cooled in order to make crumbs.
Note 2: A 1 quart deli container is perfect for holding 1lb of breadcrumbs. Depending on how many cutlets you get out of your 2 lbs of chicken, you may need more or less breadcrumbs, so start with 1 cup of breadcrumbs and add more as necessary.
Note 3: Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature of the oil as you fry. If the temperature reaches 310, reduce heat to low.
Note 3: Seasoning your breading components will make a high difference in how much flavor you chicken has. Salt makes things taste more like themselves, so if you salt the pumpernickel breadcrumbs, they will take more like pumpernickel, which is the star of this recipe.
Keywords: Pumpernickel breadcrumbs, pumpernickel chicken cutlets, chicken cutlet recipe