Since I’ve moved to the South, I’ve heard some interesting colloquialisms. One of these is “you put your foot in it.” Apparently this phrase has nothing to do with hygiene and everything to do with cooking up something that makes folks wanna slap their mama. So when someone tells you that you put your foot in, you say thank you. Or you say, “Oh, it was my pleasure, honey.”
While I was growing up on the Iowa farm, my husband spent his early formative years in Germany at Han Air Force Base. This time heavily influenced him and he’s been a German food lover all his life. One of these loves is schnitzel.
A few years ago I couldn’t have told you what a schnitzel was, only that test subject Bill loved them. Then recently we found a German restaurant close to home that serves up authentic German cuisine and he was able to indulge his schnitzel fantasies. I don’t really eat meat if I’m unsure of its origin (and if I don’t know, it probably came from a CAFO, which is not my style) but I had to have a taste of this pounded, breaded piece of meat that I heard about for the past nine years of marriage. So I sampled off of his plate.
Oh. My. God. Shut your mouth. I considered making an exception to my no CAFO meat rule. I still may do so. It was fan-frickin-tabulous. Crunchy and salty yet tender and moist. Heck yeah, this is something I could dig. I understood at long last Bill’s schnitzel obsession.
After that experience, making schnitzel myself has been on my mind. I found a good looking recipe. I had some Nature’s Harmony Farm pork chops in the freezer I could cut up and use. Finally I decided it was schnitzel time.
The process is fairly simple: pound your meat nice and thin. Heat your fat in the pan. Dredge the flat pork in the flour mix, give it a quick coat of egg wash, then dredge in bread crumbs (I used panko). Fry for 3-4 minutes per side. And for once, it actually was that easy.
However, first I needed something to pound the pork with. My little wooden pounder I used for sauerkraut was not going to cut it. I needed something substantial. So I was forced to make a trip up to Williams-Sonoma. At first I thought I was out of luck, but a helpful employee assisted me in locating the perfect meat pounder. It’s heavy. It’s shiny. It can switch sides between flat and spiky. If Heaven’s host came to my house to cook, they would use this pounder to make schnitzel.
With my heavenly new pounder at hand, I proceeded to cut the bones out of the pork chops. It went faster and easier than I thought. When it came time for pounding, my new tool did the job in a matter of moments. A few quick pounds and my former pork chops were nearly see-though. Right on. Note to self: wear an apron next time…splattering raw pork is not an accessory.
I followed the recipe pretty closely. At the suggestion of my friend Cathy (of Steak and Guinness Pie fame) I added nutmeg to the flour and salt mixture. As I mentioned, I used panko crumbs. I also used smoked paprika in lieu of regular paprika. (Love that stuff). For the oil for frying, I used half butter and half olive oil, although I may use lard next time. I tried to make the dill sauce that the recipe uses but something happened to my sauce and it didn’t come together. Maybe because I used yogurt cheese instead of sour cream. Ah, well. It didn’t end up making a difference.
Dredging, egging and dredging again, the flattened pork became dinner. The schnitzels fried up perfectly at about three minutes per side. The first ones out of the pan were the definition of golden brown and delicious. I noted that I needed about twice the oil/butter that the recipe called for in order to have proper browning. Note for next time – reoil the pan between batches.
With my hard work nearly complete, it was time for the taste test. I crunched. I munched. I melted into the kitchen floor. It was beautiful. It was buttery, savory and delicious. It was tender. I PUT MY FOOT IN IT!!
So enamored with my schnitzel was I that I completely forgot to serve my sauerkraut with it. It was all I could do to hold myself together while I chewed. Pork schnitzel is….the second best thing I ever made.