When it comes to turkey, slow-roasting comes to mind before quick-cooking. Not so in the healthy kitchen.
Turkey breast cutlets are thin slices of skinless meat that cook quickly and require almost no prep, making them an excellent choice for weeknight dinners. On top of that, they have only half a gram of fat per 4-ounce serving.
Turkey breast cutlets can be purchased fresh or frozen, and range in size from large slices (from the main lobe of the breast) to narrow "tenders" cut from the breast tenderloin.
Turkey breast cutlets can be used in almost any recipe that calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, though you'll need to cut back the cooking time. They cook in as little as 2 to 3 minutes per side and can toughen and dry out quickly.
They are best prepared over moderate heat. Test for doneness by checking to see that they are no longer pink in the center.
These tasty cutlets also can be used as a substitute for veal in some recipes. For instance, make turkey cordon bleu by topping cutlets slices with a thin slice of smoked ham and Gruyere cheese. Roll the cutlets and secure with a toothpick. Bake and then serve sliced.
You can make a quick turkey piccata by sauting flour-dredged cutlets in a small amount of olive oil, then make a sauce by deglazing the pan with lemon juice or white wine and some chicken stock. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and capers.
If you're in the mood for fajitas, slice turkey cutlets into thin strips and marinate them in a garlicky, citrus vinaigrette. Saute the strips with onions, green peppers and a bit of ground cumin, then serve with warm tortillas.
This recipe for Parmesan-crusted turkey cutlets uses "oven frying," a technique that produces crispy deep-fried results without all the fat.
Turkey breast cutlets are brushed with Dijon mustard and dredged in a blend of Parmesan cheese and unseasoned breadcrumbs. For the best flavor, use freshly grated Parmesan, rather than the kind that comes in a jar or cardboard container.
To guarantee crispy results, the dredged cutlets are misted on all sides with olive oil spray before being baked. The spray nozzle distributes the oil evenly and adds hardly any fat.
If you like, you can make a light turkey Parmesan by covering the crispy baked cutlets with tomato sauce, a sprinkle of Parmesan and some shredded part-skim milk mozzarella. Return to the oven in a baking dish, and bake until the cheese has melted, about 10 minutes.
PARMESAN-CRUSTED TURKEY CUTLETS
Start to finish: 35 minutes (15 minutes active)
Olive oil cooking spray
1 pound turkey breast cutlets
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2/3 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large egg whites
Place a rack in the top third of oven and heat oven to 425 degrees. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and coat the rack lightly with cooking spray.
Brush both sides of the turkey breast cutlets with mustard. In a pie plate or other shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley and pepper.
In another bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy and opaque. Dip each cutlet into the beaten egg whites, then in the breadcrumb mixture. Place the cutlets on the prepared rack over the baking sheet. Discard any remaining breadcrumb mixture.
Coat the top of each cutlet with cooking spray, turn the cutlets over and spray again. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crumb coating is golden brown and crisp and the turkey is no longer pink at the center.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING: 244 calories; 4 grams fat (2 grams saturated); 75 milligrams cholesterol; 13 grams carbohydrate; 35 grams protein; 1 gram fiber and 374 milligrams sodium.