Spicy Fried Chicken Cutlets
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon bottled hot sauce plus additional, for serving
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups fresh bread crumbs (from 6 slices firm white sandwich bread, crusts on)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup vegetable oil for frying
Gently pound chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap with a flat meat pounder or a rolling pin until 1/3-inch thick. Whisk together buttermilk, hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish, then add chicken, turning to coat, and let stand 15 minutes.
Place flour in a shallow dish. Stir together bread crumbs, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in another shallow dish.
Remove chicken from buttermilk 1 piece at a time, dredge in flour, dip back into the buttermilk, letting excess drip off, then dredge in bread crumbs, pressing gently to help them adhere.
Transfer chicken as coated to a sheet of waxed paper.
Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking (about 360 degrees F), then fry chicken 2 pieces at a time until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side.
Transfer chicken with tongs to paper towels to drain and serve with hot sauce on the side.
Yield: 4 servings