Cutlets cooked "a la Milanese" — breaded in a cheesy crumb coating and pan-fried until crisp — are popular in every part of Italy (and here, for that matter)! They are usually made with veal, but my aunt Carolyna wanted something she could serve her college friends, many of whom don't eat veal. So I substituted chicken for the veal and added fennel to the quick pan sauce in this dish I devised for her; it is quite light and fresh-tasting, yet still true to the original.
For the chickenPlace an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 150ºF.
Line a baking sheet with a wire rack.
Spoon the flour into a wide, shallow bowl.
Crack the eggs into another wide, shallow bowl; lightly beat them.
In a third wide, shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil, and thyme.
On a work surface, place the chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.
Using a meat mallet, lightly pound the chicken until approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly, then dip into the beaten eggs, allowing the excess egg to drip off.
Coat the chicken with the bread crumb mixture, pressing gently to adhere.
In a large, non-stick sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
Place 2 pieces of breaded chicken in the oil and cook until light golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Reserve the cooking juices in the pan.
For the sauceAdd the olive oil to the reserved cooking juices in the sauté pan and heat over medium heat.
Add the fennel and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the cherry tomatoes, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the tomatoes are tender.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the mascarpone cheese and stir until the mixture is creamy.
Season with salt and pepper, if needed.
To serve, arrange the chicken on a serving platter and spoon the sauce on top.