You’re quite the dish, Chicken Italiano at Shank’s! How did you get your start?
Frank and Evelyn Perry, the original owners of Shank’s, created me 50 years ago. Doin’ OK for 50, am I right?
I’d imagine you’re delicious at any age!
I’m nowhere near my expiration date. I’m a classic.
Your kind is a staple at Philly sandwich shops, so what makes you different?
We keep busy with daily deliveries of fresh produce. That’s the big difference between us and the other guys.
Let’s get down to it: What are you made of?
I start with your choice of a fresh seeded Sarcone’s French loaf or a plain Aversa French loaf. At Shank’s, cutlets are almost made to order—cooking no more than 20 at a time—and only warmed up on the grill if needed. My fans can tell the difference between fresh and frozen chicken. I’m topped with Andy Boy broccoli rabe plus Belgioso aged sharp provolone.
What’s the most important technique in your construction?
My premium Andy Boy rabe, which has more leaves and less buds, is worth the extra bucks, according to Shank’s GM Dan Fleischmann. Greens can be finicky, so mine are blanched then sauteed with olive oil and garlic to ensure the proper taste and texture finishing with salt, pepper and a dash of oil.
Your cutlets are mighty juicy—any tips on how to keep them from drying out?
Use fresh breadcrumbs with Italian seasonings like parsley and basil plus salt, pepper and eggs. I’m batter-dipped, thrown into a 90/10 oil mixture (90 percent canola, 10 percent olive) and pan-fried until crispy. And did I mention my chicken is fresh, never frozen? Don’t freeze me, please! Just don’t.
Ever get to hear what customers say about you as you’re scarfed down?
“Wow.” Just a lot of echoing “wows” the whole way down to the stomach. Owner Phil McFillin says first-timers will be back the next day jonesing for another taste.
Any advice to fans that just can’t stay away?
Throw on your elastic banded pants and enjoy!
Shank’s Original Pier 40, 901 S. Columbus Blvd. 215.218.4000. shanksoriginal.com
PW's Taste of Philly 2014