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Origins of Cotoletta alla Milanese

Origins of Cotoletta alla Milanese

Like many of the dishes in Europe, the paternity of the cotoletta is disputed between France, Italy and Austria.

The Historian Pietro Verri mention in his book “History of Milan” (1783) that this tasty steak was served for the first time the 17 of September 1134 during a banquet organized by monks to honor of the memory of Saint Ambrogio, protector of Milan.

One of the most curious and controversial tales says that in origin Cotoletta alla Milanese was breaded with powdered gold! 

The doctors of the Middle Ages, believing that gold was the best medicine against heart disease, suggested to sprinkle the dishes with the powder of the precious metal.

A ridiculously expensive remedy and only available in kitchens of kings and a few lucky mortals. All the others instead had to settle only for the color … of gold.

Breaded and golden côtelettes are present also in French cookbooks since the beginning of the 18th century. When these côtelettes arrived in Italy, at the beginning of the XIV century, they were called in Italian “Cotolette of the French Revolution”. The revolutionary cutlet, however, had to be marinated in melted butter with salt, pepper, cloves and fine herbs and then passed for flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs, before being fried. In other words, his method of preparation (and also some ingredients) was quite different from that of the very first recipe of the Milanese Costoletta never published, which appeared in 1855 in the book Gastronomia Moderna, by Giuseppe Sorbiatti.

The recipe was called “Veal ribs fried alla Milanese”: the words Costolina and Costoletta in Italian are roughly the same. The method of preparation of that recipe required that the ribs were immersed in the beaten eggs, covered with breadcrumbs and fried in butter until they reached the browning. The author suggests frying over a low heat. Use the words “blonde heat” and “sauté over low heat” to give you an idea of ​​how to proceed. There was still no clarified butter, which was then used for its highest smoke point and because it was particularly appropriate in the professional kitchen. Sorbiatti’s recipe suggested serving the meat with the same melted butter in which it was cooked, with the addition of slices of lemon.

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