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Guest Post: Dennis – Jägerschnitzel

I love me some German food and schnitzel is some of the best of the bunch. Dennis who blogs at Life Fermented Blog seems to agree. Take a look at his blog and what he has for us below…

Back in undergraduate school, I had the fantastic opportunity to study abroad in Germany for a semester. While not normally an option for engineering students, my college set up a special program to keep us on track. We were able to schedule our classes with Friday off, so we would jump on a plane or train every Thursday afternoon and go to a new city or country before returning for Monday morning classes. After undergrad, I went back with my now-wife for another few weeks because we both loved it so much.

I learned much about Europe’s culture and history and saw many breathtaking sights during my travels. But to me, the true joy of traveling was sitting down with friends to a great meal. I would try to order the specialty or the weirdest thing on the menu, and always with a great beer (oh, how I miss you Kozel and Augustiner!).

My favorite dish from my travels was Jägerschnitzel. When I got back, I was determined to come up with my own recipe to accurately recreate this dish as I remember it.

Schnitzel is simply flattened pork, veal, or chicken which is battered and pan fried. I went with the most traditional and my favorite choice, pork. This can be eaten alone with a squeeze of lemon or with jäger sauce, a brown gravy typically with some combination of onions, mushrooms, and bacon.

This recipe, the result of many trials, is a favorite among friends and family. It is large and can easily be halved. It’s not a difficult recipe, but takes about four solid hours to prepare and will test your patience—don’t cut any corners and you will be rewarded. It’s not exactly heart healthy, but this isn’t likely a dish you’ll make often, so indulge yourself.

Every time I take my first bite of this Jägerschnitzel, I am instantly transported back in time, sitting around a wooden table in a dimly lit restaurant in the heart of Bavaria, hefting a liter of the local dunkel brau and laughing about the day.

This recipe is designed to be approximated—stay somewhere near the range and you’ll be good to go. Sorry if that freaks you out. First, the sauce:

  • 32 oz/ 1 L beef stock
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) dry red wine (such as pinot noir/merlot, etc)
  • 12 to 16 oz/ 0.3 to 0.5 kg bacon
  • 1 lb/ 0.5 kg mushrooms (optional; I omit them for my wife)
  • 2 medium or large white or yellow onion
  • 1 cup/ 240 mL sour cream
  • 1 cup/ 240 mL heavy cream or additional sour cream
  • 1 tsp/ 5 mL ground coriander (the secret ingredient!)
  • 1 tbsp/ 15 mL minced garlic
  • flour for thickening

large_fig1_ingredients

Put most of the beef stock and wine in a 4 qt/ 4 L pan. A note on wine: you don’t need the fanciest bottle, but if you wouldn’t enjoy a glass of it, you shouldn’t put it in your food either. My bottle was only about $7 USD, but it’s a brand I trust for good taste at a low price. Also, it is best not to use a “fruit bomb” with a huge grape juice/ cherry/ berry flavor. A lot goes in, so it will have a huge influence on the final flavor.

The remaining stock is insurance against over-thickening later; reserve about 0.5 cup/ 120 mL of wine for finishing the sauce, and take a half glass for yourself to enjoy (after you finish using knives for the day, of course). Set the pan over medium heat, uncovered, to reduce.

large_fig2_reduction

Next, slice the bacon into 0.5 inch/ 1 cm shreds. Pro-tip: near-frozen bacon is much easier to cut. Fry until slightly crispy, then move into the sauce pot, reserving the grease. Reduce the heat of the sauce to low, and stir every now and again to make sure nothing settles and scorches.

large_fig3_bacon

Pour about 0.5 cup/ 120 mL of the grease into another pan, preferably through a fine sieve or strainer (less for less onion). Coarsely chop your onions after discarding the outer layer and trimming the stem and root. Caramelize the onions in the strained bacon grease (actually they undergo Maillard reactions, not caramelization). This will take about a half hour; 1/8 tsp/ 0.6 mL slaked lime (aka pickling lime or calcium hydroxide) or about 0.25 tsp/ 1.2 mL baking soda will help speed the process; I prefer slaked lime, as baking soda seems to make them too mushy, but slaked lime is very caustic. Do not rush this step, as it adds a really nice deep savory flavor impossible to get otherwise.

Start by frying uncovered on medium-high heat until most of the water has evaporated, then reduce the heat to medium, stirring from the bottom up constantly. When they are a deep golden brown, add the garlic and fry for another minute or so before adding to the rest of the sauce. Experience talking: if you burn the onions, throw them away and start over.

large_fig4_onions

Fry up and add the mushrooms after the onions if you want them. Let the sauce sit partially covered on lowest heat while you prepare the pork.

  • 2-3 lb/ 0.9 to 1.4 kg pork chops, about 0.5 inch/ 1.5 cm thick
  • 2 cup/ 500 mL flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 12 oz/ 340 mg plain bread crumbs
  • 0.5 cup/ 120 mL unsalted butter
  • 0.5 cup/ 120 mL shortening
  • salt
  • pepper

Cut each chop in half so it’s square-ish; each cut piece should be 2 to 4 oz/ 60 to 120 g. Trimming the fat is optional. The only problem with fat is that it will not stretch as well as the muscle fiber while flattening. I recommend at least removing any fat that runs in the same direction as the muscle fibers since the chop will stretch most in this direction.

Use your favorite instrument to flatten the meat from 0.5 inch/ 1.5 cm to about a quarter of its original thickness, about 1/8 inch/ 0.3 cm. I use a pestle from my mortar and pestle set first, as the small rounded head seems to break up the meat a little better. Then I switch to a spiky tenderizing mallet to finish the job. Before I got my pestle, I was known to (lightly!) use a cleaned hammer wrapped in a few layers of plastic wrap. Lightly salt and pepper each side of the flattened chop. A dish towel under your plastic cutting board will help deaden the banging a little, though not enough.

large_fig5_hammeredPork

Home stretch! We’ll finish the sauce now, so everything will be ready to serve immediately after the schnitzel is done frying. Turn the heat up to medium and whisk in the cream and then finishing wine. I prefer using all sour cream, as it adds a nice tang. Whisk in two heaping spoonfuls of flour, preferably added through a sieve to prevent clumping. Let this simmer for a few minutes and check the thickness. Flour must be cooked to reach its full thickening potential, and the sauce will thicken a bit more at serving temperatures. If it still seems too runny, slowly add more flour; you can add the reserved stock if you over-thicken. Thinner is better than too thick.

Stir in the ground coriander; you can get away without it, but it really does add a nice background complimentary flavor. Reduce to the lowest heat and partially cover again.

Put the butter and shortening in a clean pan and let melt over medium heat while you prepare the breading; mind the butter, as it scorches easily. You can substitute some sieved bacon fat in, if you have more; olive/ vegetable/ other oils won’t brown up as nice.

In three shallow bowls, add flour to one, eggs to another, and bread crumbs to the third. Whisk the eggs with 1 tbsp/ 15 mL water per egg (4 tbsp/ 60 mL for the four).

large_fig6_batter

When the oil is hot, coat each piece of pork first in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, and lay flat in the pan. It helps to have one person minding the pan another breading. If the grease is hot enough, the pork should immediately sizzle. Cook each side until golden brown, about 1 minute per side if you pounded it thin enough. Stab lightly with a fork to flip without disturbing the coating.

large_fig7_frying

The schnitzel should be a bit inflexible as it comes out of the pan. Adjust the heat up to ensure a fast fry or down to avoid too much scorching as needed. Especially after the first few pieces, the pan will likely smoke quite a lot, so having your oven-hood fan on and a window open isn’t a terrible idea. You may need to add additional shortening or use completely new shortening and butter after a while if you are frying a lot of schnitzel.

large_fig8_finishedSchnitzel

Serve immediately with copious jäger sauce. If you can find it, an easy traditional side to serve with it is spaetzle, a German-style dumpling noodle; add cheese and caramelized onions for kaesespaetzle. In the US, most grocery stores on military bases have it, and some chain or specialty stores will stock it. The sauce will keep pretty well, but the schnitzel coating gets a little soggy. Re-warming in an oven or toaster oven helps.

large_fig9_platedSchnitzel - Featured Size

If you like this article, you can check out more from me on my blog, Life Fermented. I generally write about home brewing, brew science, and other fermented goodies, including bread.

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Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: German, Guest, Main Dish 3, Pork2, Wine

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

2 Comments on “Guest Post: Dennis – Jägerschnitzel”

  1. October 20, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

    I had thought schnitzel was sausage all my life! Recipe looks good and easy to follow.

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Food Recipe: Jägerschnitzel | Life, Fermented - January 15, 2015

    […] Bonus post!  I wrote a guest post for the Rantings of a an Amateur Chef blog about my original Jägerschnitzel recipe.  Jägerschnitzel is a traditional German dish consisting of schnitzel (breaded and fried flattened pork) and Jäger (hunter) sauce, a delicious brown gravy with bacon and onions.  Check it out here! […]

    Like

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