When I was a kid, my dad used to make chicken cutlets all the time. Not chicken parmesan (though I’d have happily eaten it) – just chicken, breaded with breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, some herbs, salt and pepper. He’d fry them in some olive oil and the house would be perfumed by the delicious Italian scent.
Better yet, there would frequently be leftover breading mixture, which he would turn into “cheese balls.” He’d add an egg to the breading, making it into a paste, and fry it alongside the chicken.
The result was heaven: a fried little goodie with a crispy crust yet tender middle, packed with the salty, tasty zing of Parmesan.
I made some today with the leftover breading for my eggplant parmesan. They’re just as I remember – delicious.
My kitchen is now filled with that same Italian perfume. And I am a happy woman.
1 c. of Parmesan cheese
¾ c. unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
Salt and pepper
1 to 2 eggs (start with one)
1 to 3 Tbs. water (start with one)
Olive oil for frying
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together an egg and a tablespoon of water. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring to combine. You should have a dough of medium wetness – not too wet (add more parm), not too dry (add more water or eggs) – that’s a bit sticky. Roll dough into small balls; they should be larger than a shooter marble but not nearly as big as a golf ball.
Pour olive oil into a heavy duty pan until it’s about ½-inch deep. Heat over a medium flame. Drop one ball into the oil to ascertain temperature. If the oil is of the right temperature, it shouldn’t bubble too much (or not at all). Add a few more balls into the pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook each side until a deep golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Flip and repeat.
When finished, the ball should have a nice, crisp exterior and a tender, fully cooked interior – not wet or gluey.
Best enjoyed warm, but cold out of the refrigerator is delicious too.