Everybody should see Florence at least once—the duomo is an architectural marvel, as is the Ponte Vecchio, and the Boboli gardens across the river provide a great panoramic view of the city. Some of the greatest renaissance art can be found in Florence. It’s also a foodie destination, with a long tradition of high-end cuisine. That being said, it’s typically so packed with tourists that you can hardly move through the main piazzas. In fact, I never managed to see the famous David statue in the Accademia because the lines were always too long (back in the days before timed entry). The mosquitos are also ferocious. The last time I tried to visit Florence (with my dad and brother), we could not find a hotel because it was Fashion Week, and we did not book in advance. We ended up driving way out of the city to some tiny hamlet, which turned out to be wonderful though not particularly exciting. I doubt I could find it again in a million years.
For some reason, “florentine” implies spinach (the one major exception being bistecca alla fiorentina). When you prepare this dish, you want the chicken to cook evenly—so if the cutlets are too thick, you can pound them flat (very old-school) or just slice them in half, which is my preferred method. My version of this dish starts like a chicken milanese but then takes a florentine twist. You can use any semi-soft cheese. I like fontina, but a mozzarella or provolone would also do the trick.
What you need
Chicken breast cutlets
Basil, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper
Fontina or other semi-soft cheese
Vegetable oil for frying
How you make it
- Beat an egg thoroughly with a dash of milk or water.
- Pour some flour onto a plate and mix in a bit of salt and pepper.
- Pour some breadcrumbs onto a separate plate and mix in some grated cheese (maybe two parts breadcrumbs to one part cheese) and a pinch of basil, oregano, and thyme.
- If the chicken breasts are too fat, slice them flat-wise or pound them with a mallet or the flat side of a cleaver.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour, then dip in the egg, and finally coat with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Fry the cutlets in medium-hot oil until brown on both sides, then move them to a broiling pan.
- Sauté the spinach with some olive oil until just wilted.
- Spread the spinach on the cutlets and top with some cheese.
- Heat beneath the broiler until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
You can serve this atop mashed potatoes, polenta, rice, or creamy pasta.