Cotoletta alla Milanese recipe

The Food of Italy: Milan – Cotoletta alla Milanese

By Region Central Italy Culture News

The ItalyNewsOnline series on the delights of Italian cuisine heads to the capital of Lombardy, Milan. This is the birthplace of Cotoletta alla Milanese.

Home to La Scala opera house, an ornate gothic cathedral and the Castello Sforzesco, Milan is also the birthplace of the dish cotoletta alla Milanese.

Milan Highlights

Milan is also known for being at the heart of the Italian fashion industry and has also been at the heart of a number of empires across the centuries.

The Castello Sforzesco had been the ducal residence during the Visconti period. However, it was demolished during the short-lived Ambrosia Republic and rebuilt by the dynastic rulers of Milan, the Sforza family. Later used as a barracks through the successive rules of the Spanish, Austrian and French empires, it’s use shows how Milan adapted for its conquerors.

It is the duomo, with its elaborate exterior decoration that captures me every time I visit.  When Oscar Wilde clapped eyes on it in 1875 he described it as ‘monstrous and inartistic.’ Mark Twain, on the other hand, was more effusive:

‘What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! […] They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter’s at Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands…’

Mark Twain
Milan duomo

A trip to the duomo roof is worth it. The views across Milan to the mountains deserve any trembling limbs brought on by a mild case of vertigo.

Read: Genoa and pesto

History of Cotoletta alla Milanese

Just three minutes from the duomo is the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio. It was in this cathedral, a banquet for the canon in 1134, that cotoletta alla Milanese is first mentioned. Further evidence dates to around the 1st century BC indicating Romans enjoyed dishes of thin sliced meat, breaded and fried.

It is traditionally prepared with a veal rib chop or sirloin bone-in and made into a breaded cutlet, fried in butter. Due to its shape, it is often called oreggia d’elefant in Milanese or orecchia d’elefante in Italian, meaning elephant’s ear.

Cotoletta alla Milanese with salad

Cotoletta alla Milanese Recipe

Serving Size:
15 minutes


  • 1 ½ lb veal cutlets
  • 6 tbsp clarified (melted) butter
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 125g fine white breadcrumbs


  1. If the cutlets have not been prepared for you by the butcher for this recipe you will need to tenderise the veal cutlets and flatten into a thin escalope.
  2. Dip each of the cutlets completely into the egg then press both sides of the cutlets into the breadcrumbs ensuring they are totally covered.
  3. Place the cutlets into the hot melted butter and fry until tender and golden brown on both sides.
  4. Serve with salad, sautéed potatoes or spaghetti and a wedge of lemon.

The Food of Italy series can be found in the culture section of ItalyNews.Online

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