Chicken & Potatoes: Lazio vs. Campania

It was Lazio versus Campania, and it was a blast.

Food author Mark Leslie was in town to promote his book, Beyond the Pasta, about the time he spent living with a family in Viterbo, northwest of Rome. Mornings he was in the kitchen with “Nonna” the grandmother, helping to prepare the family meals each day.

This is an experience I can relate to. So, we decided to both cook chicken cutlets with a potato contorni as a side. Mark’s are Nonna’s Lazio recipes. Mine are my Mom’s chicken cutlet and potato croquette, as they are still served in her birth village of Mirabella Eclano in Campania.

We met up at the Cookhouse (a wonderful new rental loft in North Beach – tell ‘em Gianni sent ya!) for a little friendly kitchen battle. Watch the video above to see us cook our dishes side by side. Here are the recipes…

Mark’s Lazio Recipes

Arrosto Pannato (Breaded Chicken Cutlet)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound chicken cutlets (8 slices)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cooking Directions

  1. In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, grated cheese, salt and pepper, stirring until well mixed.
  2. brush both sides of a cutlet with oil and place in the shallow dish on top of the bread crumb mixture.
  3. Spoon mixture on top and, using your fingers, press the coating onto the cutlet.
  4. Turn the cutlet over and repeat until the entire piece is breaded.
  5. Shake off any excess coating and place the breaded cutlet on a plate to hold while breading the rest of the cutlets.
  6. Place a medium non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat and when hot, add the breadded cutlets to the dry pan, cooking (in batches if necessary) until the coating starts to crisp and turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Turn the cutlet over and cook the second side for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until crisp and golden.
  8. Serve warm.
  9. Serves 4.

Patate con Semi di Finocchio (Roasted Potatoes with Fennel Seed)

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 6 (2 to 2 1/2 pounds) medium potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, chopped

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the fennel seed in a spice grinder, or using a mortal and pestle, crush to a medium-fine grind. Set aside.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut lengthwise in half.
  4. Cut each half lengthwise in half again, and cut the quarters on angle into halves again (you are creating spears by cutting each potato into eighths.)
  5. Place the spears into a large bowl and add the oil, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary and ground fennel seed.
  6. Stir until well combined and the potatoes are well coated.
  7. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until well browned.
  8. Halfway through the cooking process use a spatula to turn the potatoes so they roast evenly.
  9. Makes 6 servings.

Gianni’s Campania Recipes

Cotoletta di pollo fritta (fried chicken cutlet)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken scallopine, pounded thin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat parsley, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or your favorite)

Cooking Directions

  1. Place the flour and the breadcrumbs on separate large plates or in bowls.
  2. Place the eggs in a bowl and beat well.
  3. Add the pecorino, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well.
  4. Dredge the cutlets in flour. Shake off excess.
  5. Dip the floured cutlet in the egg-wash to coat well. Drain briefly.
  6. Put the egg-washed cutlet on the breadcrumbs. Press with your fingers to adhere the breadcrumbs.
  7. Turn the cutlet over to coat with breadcrumbs. Press with your fingers to adhere the breadcrumbs.
  8. Repeat to ensure you have a good breadcrumb coating all over the cutlet. Set the breaded cutlets aside.
  9. Put both oils in a cast-iron pan or a skillet and heat until the oil ripples.
  10. Fry the cutlet on each side until they breadcrumbs are golden brown.
  11. Drain well on paper towel.
  12. Serve warm with a wedge of lemon.

Crocchette di patate fritte (fried potato croquettes)

Ingredients

  • 10 (about a pound) small Yukon Gold potatoes (or your fav)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
  • 2 tablespoons flat parsley, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or your fav)
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Cooking Directions

  1. Boil the potatoes until knife tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Peel the potatoes and put them through a ricer or mash well.
  3. In a bowl, beat the eggs and then add the pecorino, parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the potatoes a bit at the time and mix well. Add enough egg mixture so that you can form the croquette in your hand but it isn\'t so wet that you can\'t form it into a solid shape.
  5. If the egg-wash is all gone, beat another egg in the bowl.
  6. Form the croquette in your hand in a long cylinder about 2 or 3 inches around and about 3 inches long.
  7. Place the croquette back in the egg-wash or beaten egg to lightly coat all over. I just use my hands for this step and the next breadcrumb step.
  8. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl or plate and roll the croquette to pick up a light coating all over. Don\'t forget to coat the ends too.
  9. Put both oils in a cast-iron pan or skillet.
  10. When the oil begins to ripple fry the croquettes until they are golden brown all over.
  11. Drain well on paper towel.
  12. Serve warm.
  13. Makes about a dozen croquettes.