Pork Schnitzel

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A girlfriend of mine often gifts me cookbooks, and the most recent one was Half Baked Harvest. I was excited because I have followed Tieghan Gerard’s award-winning blog for years, but didn’t realize she had published not only this cookbook, in 2017, but also Super Simple, in 2019!

Honestly, I have to admit to being a bit skeptical when I first hear about cookbooks penned by young bloggers. It’s not that I don’t expect them to be talented in the kitchen, but it takes a lot to wow me. When you’ve been cooking regularly and professionally for close to 40 years, you’ve done a lot of cooking!

Plus I think traveling the world is such an important part of learning about food and cooking, and eating. Have these young folk, often moms of littles, traveled much? Out of their states? Out of their countries?

If I see quick and easy in titles, I usually pass on them. I don’t mind long ingredient lists, and even when I was busy cooking for my growing family, time wasn’t an important criteria. Creating nourishing food was, no matter how long it took.

Well, Half Baked Harvest was a wonderful surprise. The recipes are fun, not redundant, and the photos are beautiful while not being over-styled.

The recipe I chose to make is called Red’s Favorite Schnitzel, a dish named after Tieghan’s younger brother, which I think is adorable. Also, because I’ve never made schnitzel before. I ate it in Germany and Austria and never could learn to love it, so it was time to make it in my own kitchen.

Red’s Favorite Schnitzel
Printable recipe below

4 boneless pork chops, about 1/2” thick*
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups panko
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika (I used sweet)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons salted butter
1 lemon, sliced
Fresh thyme leaves
Flaky sea salt, for serving

Season the pork with salt and pepper.

In a shallow medium bowl, combine the panko, garlic powder, paprika, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

Working with one chop at a time, press the pork into the panko, using your fist to pound the crumbs into the pork. Repeat with the remaining chops.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add 2 of the pork chops and cook until deep golden brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the schnitzel to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and repeat the frying process with the remaining 2 chops.

Wipe the skillet clean and add the butter and lemon slices. Sear the lemon until golden on each side, about 1 minute per side. Remove the lemon from the skillet and add to the plate with the schnitzel.

Serve each schnitzel with lemon slices, fresh thyme leaves, and a sprinkle of flaky salt.

Look at how nice and tender these are?

I used thicker pork chops and, obviously, cooked them longer. I was just worried about thin pork chops overcooking. I’m not a “cutlet” gal!

I am definitely impressed with this recipe. My only changes were to include some white pepper and onion powder in the panko mix.

* I also used slightly thicker pork chops – they were more like 3/4” thick.

 

 

Salad with Liver

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When I purchased the book, Alpine Cooking, I knew all of the cheesy recipes would jump out at me, like liptauer. What I didn’t expect to entice me was a beautiful green salad topped with sautéed calf liver and fried onions.

Here are some of my own photos from our family’s time visiting the Alps in France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. Notice we’ve only been there during the warm months!

I rarely cook liver at home. It’s just the two of us, and the “other” won’t eat liver. So if I make a paté or foie gras, we have one friend and a son-in-law who will join in on the feast. Outside of that happening, I have to eat it all myself.

Occasionally I get a hankering for good ‘ole beef liver, served with onions and eggs. It’s fabulous for breakfast.

In the case of this salad, however, I didn’t mind making it and having it all to myself. At least there was some lettuce involved!

Tyrolean Liver Salad
Tiroler Lebersalat

Crispy onions:
2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 yellow onions, sliced into very thin rings

Dressing:
1/4 cup white balsamic
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Salad:
1 pound calf liver, but into 3/4” slices
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2/3 cup beef stock
Mixed salad greens (mesclun, baby gem, radicchio) for serving

Line a baking sheet with a layer of paper towels. In a heavy pot or a cast-iron frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until it registers 320 degrees to 340 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (I used my electric deep fryer.) When the oil is at the correct temperature, dredge 1/4 of the onion rings in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess before transferring to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining onions, working in batches.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine both vinegars, the salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and whisk in both oils; set aside. (I just shook the ingredients in a jar.)

Generously season the liver with salt and pepper. In a cast-iron pan over high heat, warm the olive oil until it shimmers. Pan-fry the liver slices, turning them over only when you see a nice golden-brown crust forming on the bottom. Stir in the garlic and herbs, followed by the beef stock. Continue to cook over medium heat until the stock has reduced to a sauce consistency and the liver has softened, another minute or so.

Arrange the salad greens on four plates, topping each with a portion of liver.

Spoon the warm dressing over each plate and top with crispy onions. Serve immediately.

The braised liver was tender and very good, surprisingly. I’ve never braised liver, but I also didn’t cook it nearly as long as the recipe suggests.

I served the salads with rye crackers and German Tilsit cheese. Outstanding.

This really is a fun salad. Of course you have to like liver.

I enjoyed the fried onion rings, and included ripe tomatoes just for some color.

And if you’ve never had Tilsit, get some!!!

Rösti

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Because one cannot have enough potatoes during these dreary winter months, I bring you Rösti – a potato masterpiece from Switzerland.

Similar to a tartiflette, sort of its French counterpart and equally unphotogenic, this potato dish is extremely hearty and satisfying. It would be a perfect meal for avant skiing, as well for après skiing. Not that I ski, but I can imagine how good it would be for carb loading, as well as for replacing precious calories burnt after such an exuberant day on the slopes.

I first enjoyed Rösti in a teeny village somewhere in the Berner Oberland of Switzerland. I have vivid memories of everything about the dish, just not, unfortunately, the name of the village. I remember that we stayed at the only hotel in town, which was quite lovely. Actually, there was no real town. Just a little country road, and the hotel.

For lunch one day, my family sat outside the hotel and enjoyed Rösti and beer. I wasn’t trying to carb-load, although we went hiking after lunch. I just wanted to try the local specialty.

Occasionally cows were led by; they all had cow bells around their necks, which I’d never witnessed before. It turns out, there’s quite a bit of history and cultural importance in Switzerland with their prized local cows and the cow bells as well.

Every year after the snow melts, the cows are taken to high pastures to graze on meadow grass, which is supposedly why the local cheese made from their milk is so tasty. At the end of the grazing season, the cows come home. There is a celebration called the Alpaufzug, which is the procession when the cows return to their villages. It takes place, understandably, in the fall. We were visiting Switzerland in May. Some day I hope to go back for Alpaufzug, because I just have a love affair with beautiful cows.

I got to see the local cows and hear their bells ringing from around their necks, just from them walking around, but the cows don’t always wear their fancy cow bells. These are saved for the Alpaufzug as well as other celebrations. You know the Europeans – there are celebrations for everything and anything throughout the year. But these fancy cow bells can weigh a hundred or so pounds, if I remember correctly. We saw some displayed in various restaurants and hotels throughout the Berner Oberland – giant bells hanging from tooled, leather harnesses. Some of these cow bells go back multiple generations in history; they are very prized and proud possessions for these Swiss people.

Here’s an example of the Alpaufzug from this photo I found online. People actually put flowers on the cows.

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Don’t you wonder what the cows are thinking? But I do love that the Swiss truly love and worship their cows.

Myself, I only found one gal in a field, who didn’t have on a cow bell. But they’re beautiful cows, aren’t they?

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This photo was taken near Interlaken. If you’ve never been to this part of Switzerland, well it’s everything you’ve ever heard or read about it. The mountains, rivers, and valleys are stunning. And if you take the train all the way to the top from Lauterbrunnen, you get to Yungfraujoch, with stunningly icy views, like these:

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I’m actually surprised my camera didn’t freeze, but I wasn’t outside long.

So I’ve gotten a little off track discussing Rösti, but the cows are an important factor because cheese can be part of a Rösti, as well as ham or bacon.

What I ate in Switzerland was classic Rösti – crispy grated potatoes – similar to what the Americans refer to as hashed browns. As much as I try not to google about food, I was really fascinated by what is considered traditional Rösti. And, not surprisingly, I came up with so many versions, depending on the village in Switzerland, and if the village was Swiss speaking, or German speaking.

I came across this interesting tidbit: In Swiss popular consciousness, rösti is eaten only in the German-speaking part of the country. It is portrayed as a stereotypical identifier of Germanic culture, as opposed to the Latin one. The line separating the French and German speaking sides is jokingly called the Röstigraben, literally the “rösti ditch”.

I love how food can be a political divider in countries. I mean, it’s just potatoes! But oh, such good potatoes.

So I decided just to wing Rösti on my own, following no recipe. I might have actually made something very much equaling a traditional dish somewhere in Switzerland – you never know! But I did decide to included Gruyère along with the potatoes. Gruyère is an aged version of what we know in the states to be Swiss cheese, and it’s a product of the milk of those lovely cows chomping away at the alpine grasses during the summer months in Switzerland.

So here’s my version of a perfect, cold weather dish – I bring you Rösti! (pronounced roosh-tee, sort of)

Rösti

7 medium-sized potatoes, peeled ( I chose floury, baking potatoes)
Olive oil or duck fat, not butter
Salt
Pepper
Approximately 8 ounces Gruyère, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

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Grate the potatoes, and then cover them with paper towels to absorb any excess liquid. This will only take about 5 minutes.

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Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. You will need a generous amount to avoid any sticking.

Place about half of the potatoes on to the bottom of the skillet. Season them generously with salt and pepper. Using the back of a wooden spoon, pat down the potatoes.

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Cover the potatoes with the cheese.

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Then cover with the remaining potatoes. Pat down as before. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the potatoes.

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Cook the potatoes, uncovered, over the same heat, until you can tell there’s some browning. This should take about 15 minutes. Make sure that the heat isn’t too high to cause excessive browning or burning.

Now, if you could trust yourself to not spill, you could manage to flip the Rösti over and return it to the pan, cooked side up, but I decided to use my oven to cook and brown the top side instead. But either way will work.

Place the skillet in the oven and bake the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, or until there’s some equally good browning on the top.
My Rösti ended up being about 1″ thick. If yours is thinner, less time in the oven will be required.

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Remove the skillet from the oven and set it aside to cool slightly. Don’t use a lid, because Rösti should be crispy, not mushy.

Slide the Rösti out onto a serving dish, and slice in wedges to serve.

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Serve hot or at least warm.

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You could serve a fried egg on top of the potatoes, or serve them with some fried sausages. I chose to serve the potatoes with some smoked salmon.

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This made a fabulous meal – I highly recommend it!

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