denim jackets, crispy cutlets

"in season now"

Welcome to A Newsletter #36, the total number of hours I spent packing up my old apartment last week. If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:

Hello, it’s me, back from the abyss of MOVING APARTMENTS. Over the last week, I have been living amongst every single thing I have ever purchased, been gifted, stumbled upon, picked up, and refused to throw away strewn about my living quarters. As a person who refuses to throw anything away (I am my grandmother’s granddaughter), that amounted to a LOT of things, more dumb stuff than any 620 square feet should ever be subjected to. So, apologies for skipping last week’s newsletter, I was buried in nostalgia, crying over old photos where I looked super young, sweating into boxes of heirloom beans from far away places. More thoughts on moving to come next week, I’m too emotionally raw and physically exhausted to write anything smart about it right now.

TLDR; I moved and neglected you!

While I was packing, I discovered (among other things), several Ziploc bags of frozen meat, specifically boneless, skinless chicken breasts pounded to about 1/8” thickness, separated between parchment sheets, destined to become future crispy cutlets. I must apologize to these future crispy cutlets because I kept them in the freezer for far too long and alas they became inedible due to freezer burn. But it reminded me: Damn, do I love a crispy chicken cutlet.

As we hobble back to a semblance of regular life here in New York, I have done a pretty bad job at going to restaurants at my previous clip. I’m not sure what’s cool or where the youth are drinking natural wine these days. I don’t follow any Eater heatmaps and if there is a high probability I won’t get into a restaurant, I simply won’t try. The part of me that cared died last year, and maybe it will come back, but if it doesn’t, I’m honestly fine with mediocre friseé salad at Raoul’s and expensive linguini all vongole at Emilio’s Ballato because those old school New York places are where I feel safe and sound and warm and welcome and happy and fulfilled and deeply understood.

That said, there are a few things I miss about my old habits at places that would be considered too new for anyone comparing it to Keen’s and too old for anyone who reads The Drunken Canal. Parlaying meetings into a “working lunch” at Cafe Altro Paradiso in Manhattan so I could order their perfect chicken Milanese which came with a little dish of Dijon for dipping. Eating the largest, crispiest pork version at the bar at Wildair (which I also think came with mustard) late night after 83 glasses of wine, dropping by Hart’s in Brooklyn for their rendition which came with a fennel salad that went excellently with the very cold dirty gin martini with extra olives I was most certainly drinking.

These days, unfortunately, that Milanese isn’t currently on the dinner menu at CAP, Wildair is in the middle of a conceptual revamp (stay tuned for new things from them next week) and Hart’s is functioning as a pop-up provisions store until they can safely reopen for staff and diners alike. I’m grateful they’ve all survived a ridiculous year (for any small business but especially restaurants) and love how they’ve evolved, but damn, do I miss someone else making me a crispy cutlet.

To be clear, it’s not that a crispy cutlet is complicated to make at home. They’re easy and honestly pretty basic! But like a million other things I CAN do, yet simply don’t WANT to do (removing makeup before bed, filling up empty ice cube trays, paying quarterly taxes), it’s more that I just uh….don’t always want to.

Alas, deprive me of crispy cutlets long enough and it’ll force my hand to lightly pound out several breasts or chops to dip into egg wash, coat aggressively with seasoned panko bread crumbs, lightly pan fry in a bit of oil, and sprinkle with flaky salt. And since I’ve done all that work, would seem a shame to not serve it with a crunchy herby salad made of fennel or celery (or both), squeeze everything with lots of lemon (but only once you’re ready to eat it, otherwise: soggy cutlet! no thanks!) and probably have a side of cornichons for snacking and definitely a little dish of mustard for dipping, and while I’m there, make myself a martini with olives and a twist. I’LL DO IT, I SWEAR.

Of course, I would never mistake my kitchen for a restaurant, and yeah, sure, I have to make it myself (for myself), but these crispy cutlets are still one of the better things you can eat right now. Much like your denim jacket, these cutlets are “IN SEASON NOW”, which is to say it’s warm enough to want something light but cool enough to need something breaded and fried. For the full recipe (made for both pork AND chicken), either become a paid subscriber and it’ll land in your inbox tonight, or wait for the free Home Movies version on Tuesday. Whatever makes you happy!

instant gratification crispy cutlets

For the month of June, a portion of profits from paid subscriptions will go to City Harvest, an organization in NYC working to rescue unused food and deliver it to those in need. Learn more about them here
Past supported organizations to put on your radar: The Okra Project / Food Issues Group / La Cocina / Heart of Dinner / ACLU / FAIR FIGHT / Feeding America / Restaurant Workers Community Foundation / For The Culture / Welcome to Chinatown / Star Route Farm