Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pork Schnitzel

As much as I enjoy playing in the kitchen, I also really enjoy trying to cook foods from other countries.  The problem I have with that, is that I don't get to travel that much, so I don't know what these foods are supposed to taste like, or, in some cases, even look like!  This poses a slight problem, although, with food being a very popular subject on TV and in magazines (and online!  Ha!), the world is getting much smaller, and cultural foods are getting more popular!
That being said, my husband gets to travel quite a bit, and often comes home glowing about all of the awesome foods he got to eat while traveling.  I have to say, I do get a little jealous of all of the amazing things that he gets to do and the places that he gets to go eat!  I don't, however, get jealous of all of the work he has to put in while he's out, though.  
A few years ago, my husband was able to go to Germany for work, and, of course, came home singing the praises of the food and people he was introduced to while there.  He has since been back several times, and I have dipped my toe into cooking some of the foods that he talks about, and he says that it tastes good, but, for now, I'll just have to take his word for it, that this is what it tastes like over there!
Today, I'm making pork schnitzel for supper.  If this is your first time venturing into German cooking, this is a pretty easy and tasty dish to make!
Here is your grocery list:
3-4 pork chops, boneless
1 C Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 C All purpose flour
3 eggs
Kosher salt
1 Lemon
Cooking oil

First, if you're not aware of what Panko breadcrumbs are, they are a little gift from the food Gods.  When you fry a regular breadcrumb, they can sometimes become soggy, not crispy.  However, Panko is just about indestructible; it stays crispy when fried, or baked.  The crumb itself is larger than a standard breadcrumb, but you can use it as is, or put it in a food processor and mill it down to a finer crumb if you want, and it will retain its crispiness.  You can readily find Panko with the flours, corn meals and regular breadcrumbs in your grocery store.
Now then, lets get started!  You'll want to get a shallow plate or pan and put the Panko and flour in together and mix them together.  I usually use a pie plate to mix my Panko and flour in, its a good size, there is about a 1 inch lip to the dish to keep everything together, and not scattering out onto the counter.  Once the flour is fully incorporated into the Panko, crack three eggs in another dish (again, I use a pie pan), and lightly beat them. 

Now lets turn our attention to the pork chops!  They do offer thin cut pork chops at the grocery stores (or, at least, in my grocery stores), but I like to buy chops that are 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick, and pound them out myself.  No point in paying someone else to do something I can easily do, and pay more for the product to boot!  

Go on and sprinkle the pork chops with a little bit of the salt, to season it.

When I pound out a pork chop, or piece of chicken, I put a piece of meat, one at a time, into a quart sized baggie (the baggie keeps the meat juices from being spread all over your counter tops and kitchen surfaces) and with a the smooth side of a meat mallet, gently pound the meat, with small smooth movements.  As the mallet hits the meat, gently push the mallet off to the side, so the result is an evenly pounded cut of meat.  You'll want it to be about 1/4 of an inch thick, when all is said and done.

At this point, follow the standard breading procedure: dip into the egg mixture, dip into the Panko, back into the eggs and again, back into the Panko.  Once they have gone through the Panko for the second time, lay then onto a cookie sheet, and put them into the refrigerator to set up, for at least 15 minutes.  This can be done in the morning, for a really quick supper that evening.

Once you're ready to cook the pork chops, set a large skillet over medium high heat, with about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil and pull the pork chops out of the refrigerator, to warm up a bit before going taking a dip in hot oil.  You can see in this first picture, that the oil is not hot enough, but it is much hotter in the second picture.  The second picture is what you're looking for, when you put the schnitzel in.  We'll just say I did the first picture for educational purposes, and not that I was just in a rush...

Let these fry for about 5-6 minutes per side, until each chop is golden brown and perfect!  If you want to keep these warm while you're frying the rest, just place them on a cookie sheet, in a preheated oven set at 250*.

I like to eat these with a squeeze of lemon juice over the top.  The lemon really brightens the flavor, and the Panko keeps its crunchy texture!  This recipe is really easy, and very good.  Its great for a weeknight meal, because it is incredibly fast.  Start to finish, it takes about 45 minutes, and if you start this in the morning, and have it breaded and waiting on you in the fridge, its about 10 minutes in the evenings!  You can't even get take-out delivered that fast!