Thu, 25 September, 2014
Pork schnitzel, the German classic, gets an Italian makeover: lean pork loin flattened and covered with Parma ham, sage leaf and a little Parmesan. Serve with Spätzle and sauerkraut or roast potatoes and cabbage salad. And beer, either way.
Oktoberfest is actually in September. No idea why it’s not then called Septemberfest, perhaps because it runs for the last ten days of September and ends at the beginning of October so when people shake off the festive cheer they go ‘ach so! Oktober jetzt’. Post-fest bliss matters more than pre-fest anticipation which is rather nice.
I will actually be going to Munich soon, regrettably not during the Fest itself but a little after (a/ cheaper. CHEAPER! and b/ not impossible to get flights and hotel) but still I’m very excited as love Germany. And it’s not like they’ll have run out of beer, will they?
I had one of my first food epiphanies in Berlin, aged six, when given a Bratwurst from a street stall – nothing I’d expected, not a distant relation to a hot dog where a tiny bland sausage hides in a stodgy bread roll. This was a huge fat juicy WURST, tasty like anything, with a blob of mustard discretely on a side of the paper plate and there might have been a small slice of bread going but it was not the main player. Rather a palate cleanser, so that you could go on and have a Bockwurst next.
Looking forward to Munich: Leberkäse, Knödel, Sauerkraut, Weißwurst – and Schnitzel. A good schnitzel can take on a steak – I swear. If your thoughts are ‘meh’ it means you’ve only had the sorry dried-out-and-greasy versions that non-Germanic countries dish out. Wiener Schnitzel is the crown prince of course and that must be veal, hammered very thin into a cutlet that will end up taking over a large plate. But pork schnitzel is as tasty in my view and if the right, nicely trimmed cut is used it needn’t be quite as thin.
My recipe has a bit of a twist, saltimbocca take on the Schnitzel so to say, just to make it even more delightful. But even if you skip the sage and prosciutto it will still be absolutely excellent.
pork schnitzelServings: 2Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 2 trimmed pork loin medallions
- 4-6 leaves of fresh sage
- 4 slices prosciutto or Parma or serrano ham
- 2 tbsp. grated parmesan
- plain flour, for dredging
- 1 large egg
- 100g breadcrumbs, more as needed
- vegetable oil for frying
Well-trimmed pork loin is the only suitable cut; no fat, no tendons or gristle must hide underneath the breadcrumbs. You can get ready trimmed pork medallions, or ask your butcher to trim a pork chop for you – or do it yourself. It really is easy, no butchery skills required, the meat naturally separates from the fat in a chop and the bits of silvery tendons can be removed with a sharp knife.
1. Place the medallions, one at a time if easier, between two sheets of cling film and mallet down to a thickness of about 1 cm. You don’t want them too thin at this stage as they will be further hammered down with ham and herbs.
2. Peel off the top cling film, season with salt and pepper on both sides and place the sage leaves on the meat. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan, then cover with slices of prosciutto, overhanging the edges of the meat. Cover back with cling film and mallet the ham down lightly.
3. Now turn the whole thing over, film and all, peel off the cling film that is now on top and fold the overhanging edges of the ham over the other side of the meat. Cover again and mallet the edges so the ham sticks to the pork and it doesn’t all come apart when coating in breadcrumbs.
4. Prepare three large plates or shallow bowls – with flour, egg beaten with a couple of spoonfuls of water (it stops the coating from coming off while frying) and breadcrumbs. Coat the schnitzels thoroughly with flour on both sides, patting off the excess, then plunge into egg wash and coat very well, then into the breadcrumbs. Turn them over and over in the crumbs so that they are absolutely covered, no shiny bits looking through. Place the schnitzels on paper towels on a tray and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
5. When ready to cook, heat up a large pan until almost smoking, then pour in a generous amount of oil. It doesn’t need as much as for deep frying but significantly more than your usual shallow frying. When the oil is hot (a breadcrumb thrown in will dance and sizzle happily) place the schnitzels in the pan (ham side down, if you manage to remember which one that was, no matter if not) and fry for about two minutes on one side until the crust is crispy and golden. Turn over and fry on the other side for another two minutes.
6. Drain for a few seconds on paper towels, then serve. With Spätzle. Failing that, with perfect roast potatoes and sauerkraut. Failing that, with baked pears or figs. And with beer – that can’t fail.