SINGAPORE (June 26): What’s better than Italian food? More Italian food, of course! This week, we’ve issued our Chef’s Challenge to Chef Simone Fraternali of Solo Ristorante, who shares his recipe for a classic cotoletta alla bolognese, or pork chop cutlets (cotoletta translates to cutlet in Italian) with tomato and basil salad. This Italian meat dish, which originated from northern Italy, is traditionally made with veal, but has been given a personal touch here by Chef Fraternali. 

Instructions

1. Place each pork cutlet between two pieces of plastic wrap and flatten with a meat mallet until about one centimetre thick. Repeat with remaining cutlet and set aside until required.

2. Separately, prepare panko crumbs and combine with salt and pepper. On a large plate, lightly beat eggs and set aside. Lightly dust the cutlets in flour, then coat with egg wash, then breadcrumbs, shaking off excess in between. At the end, sprinkle and press the breadcrumbs down on the cutlets to make a nice thick crust. Place on a baking tray and refrigerate until required.

3. Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and thinly slice the basil leaves. Just before serving, add oil, season to taste, toss lightly to combine the ingredients and keep aside.

4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add half the butter and heat until foaming. Add the cutlets to cook, turning once, until golden and cooked through (2–3 minutes each side). Drain on absorbent paper, then transfer to a baking tray lined with absorbent paper.

5. Place a slice of ham and sprinkle grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top of each cutlet and bake in the oven till the cheese is melted and golden brown. Pat away the excess oil with absorbent paper one more time.

6. Serve hot with a side of a cherry tomato salad. 

Chef's Bio

Growing up in the charming small town of Gradara in Emilia-Romagna [a region in northern Italy, where this dish originates], Chef Simone Fraternali started his culinary career with humble beginnings: right in his grandmother’s kitchen. Watching her whip up dish after dish of the traditional cuisine of the EmiliaRomagna region to feed the family, he was inspired by how food can tell a story and convey culture, and soon developed a great passion for cooking.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of Riccione in 2006 with a specialisation in hotel services and restaurants, his passion, drive and talent brought him into the kitchens of various Michelin-starred restaurants, including the three-starred institution of Da Vittorio and one-starred concepts such as El Coq Ristorante and La Tana. At the age of 26, he arrived in Singapore to join the ilLido Group, helming their dining destinations as the executive sous chef: first at ilLido, then Aura.

His excellent knack of knowledge and dedication in his craft quickly propelled him to the role of chef de cuisine at ilLido at the Cliff at Sofitel Sentosa. Prior to joining Solo Ristorante, he was the head chef of So Sofitel Singapore, managing the full F&B operations of the luxury hotel. At Solo Ristorante as their newly-minted head chef, the affable Simone combines his multitude of experiences at Michelin-starred restaurants and fivestar luxury hotels with his humble beginnings to bring high-quality authentic Italian cuisine that represents both Emilia Romagna’s vibrant food culture and his convivial personality. 

Chef's Comments

This is a childhood dish which reminds me of my family and home. A dish traditional to Emilia Romagna, the cotoletta alla bolognese was my go-to after-school fix, and I’ll always have fond memories of calling my mother after school and seeing the dish ready on the table for me once I get home. It is a dish that brings cheer and comfort — something that we can all use these days during these extraordinary times — and it is also my way of sending love back to my family and friends in Italy. As with all Italian food, it is really important to have good quality ingredients, from the pork cutlet — you’ll want to have one with a long bone, to the bread crumbs — as that determines the crispiness of the cutlet. The temperature of the oil to fry the cutlet must also just right, at 160°C. A little pro tip is you can also add in chamomile tea powder (simply open up a teabag) to the breadcrumbs for more aroma and flavour.