One of my husband’s favorite things in the whole entire world (besides me of course, right?) is milanesa. Pork, beef, chicken milanesa, he loves it all. And most of all when we hit up a good torta or Mexican sandwich spot, a milanesa torta is always on order.
Now a classic torta de milanesa this is not, but that’s okay, that’s not what I really do anyway—you know me. You won’t find the bun slathered with creamy beans and we are using a thin piece of chicken breast, not steak but I guarantee this sandwich is no less terrific and the sentiment of soft bun, creamy spread, crispy, pan-fried meat is all still there.
Make a Pickle
Instead of a sharp slice of red onion I’ve added crunch in the form of sweet and sour fennel and carrot pickles. This recipe is based on my favorite way to make pickles which is as easy as boiling a few ingredients that I know you already have in your cupboard, pouring it over some vegetables (this recipe can be used to pickle anything from radishes to avocados—yes, really), and sticking the whole shebang in the fridge. Let them sit at least overnight in the refrigerator if you can to help the veggies really soak up the flavors.
These pickles are so delicious I found myself making a pile of them on my plate so I could eat a salad-like forkful with every bite of chicken milanese sandwich. I am a sucker for crunch so that might have something to do with it, but still, very good. So try it!!
A Couple of Tips
As for breading the chicken (and in my opinion anything that is going to be fried) I am a Panko girl til I die. Armando makes fun of me for buying Panko by the case at Costco but it is the far superior in the crispy-crunch department and we’ve already discussed how happy that makes me.
Sometimes you can find thin chicken breast filets ready to go but if not follow the instructions in the recipe to get them thin and ready for breading. You might only need two chicken breast to make four servings if they are super huge. Cutting them in half horizontally will make it easier to pound out thin, then cut them into 4 pieces trying to make the pieces the same size as your bread rolls so you don’t end up with a dry hunk of chicken-less bread at the end.
For the Fennel-Carrot Pickles
- 1 large head fennel (about 1 pound), bruised outer pieces removed
- 3 small carrots (about 1/2 pound), peeled and trimmed
- 1 jalapeno, stemmed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
For the Basil-Lime Mayo
- 2 cups basil leaves
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Chicken:
- 14 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 lime, zested
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying
For the Sandwich:
- 4 bolillo or hoagie buns
- baby spinach
To Make the Fennel-Carrot Pickles:
- Slice all the vegetables paper-thin using a mandolin if you have one, or sharp knife. Place in a large bowl.
- Place cumin seeds in a small saucepan and toast over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally until they are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar, water, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Pour over vegetables and let cool at room temperature for 1 hour. Transfer to a container with a tight-sealing lid and refrigerate overnight. Pickles will keep refrigerated for 2 months.
For the Basil-Lime Mayo:
- Combine basil leaves, mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.
For the Chicken:
- Heat oven to 300°F.
- Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally. Place one half on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound chicken until it is 1/2-inch thick using a meat mallet or anything else heavy (rolling pin or wine bottle would also work). Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Cut the pounded chicken into 4 equal pieces if you do not have 4 already.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper.
- Place Panko in a shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper and add lime zest. Mix seasoning into Panko.
- Crack egg into a separate shallow dish. Add 1 tablespoon of water, season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.
- Place flour in a third shallow dish. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Place one or two chicken pieces in the flour mixture and coat on all sides.
- Transfer floured chicken to the egg wash and turn to coat. Now place in the Panko mixture and press to coat with Panko on all sides. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
- Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
- Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, test with a pinch of Panko. If the oil is hot enough the Panko should sizzle immediately.
- Slide 1 or 2 Panko-coated chicken breast into the hot oil (don't crowd) and let cook, undisturbed until deep golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for 3 minutes more.
- Transfer chicken to the baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of the chicken. You can place the rolls in the oven too if you want them toasted a little bit.
- If most of the oil has been used in the pan add a couple more tablespoons of oil to cook the rest of the chicken pieces.
To Make the Sandwiches:
- Slice each roll in half and spread some basil-lime mayo on the top and bottom of the rolls. Put a bit of baby spinach on the bottom half then top with a piece of chicken. Pile some pickles on top and cover with the top bun.
Did you love this recipe? I want to know! Leave me a comment and snap a photo for Instagram. Tag @holajalapeno so I can see your beautiful creation! Your feedback is super important to me. If you run into trouble shoot me a message on Instagram and I’ll walk you through it.
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All ceramics by W/R/F Lab