I rarely order schnitzel in restaurants because it’s almost always awful – thin, dry and tasteless. If you dislike conventional schnitzel as well, this recipe is for you.
SCHNITZEL from Meeka’s Mum
Moist, tender schnitzel begins with good meat:
- Pale, young veal,
- Yearling beef,
- Chicken thigh fillets [not breast!],
- Pork [lean].
Next, the meat should not be ‘tenderised’. You want it thick so it doesn’t dry out into a nasty piece of crumbed leather.
To begin, sprinkle a little table salt over the meat and pop it back in the fridge until you’re ready to start preparing the schnitzel. Minimum resting time is half an hour but you can leave it overnight if necessary. [The salt will give the meat just the right amount of ‘tenderising’].
Next I prepare three bowls, 2 small, one large:
Once the meat has tenderised enough, dip the first piece into the flour and pat off the excess. Next, dip the floured meat into the beaten egg and allow the excess to drain off [just hold it on the end of a fork]. Finally, bury the meat in the breadcrumbs. This is why you need a big bowel. Press down on the meat with your knuckles to force lots of breadcrumbs into the meat. Turn, cover with more breadcrumbs and press down hard again. You should end up with a nice thick crust of breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Repeat the crumbing process until all the meat is ready to be cooked.
The final trick to perfect, tender, crunchy schnitzel is the cooking. You will pan fry it. You will not deep fry it.
I use a heavy cast iron frying pan on a medium gas burner. Adjust the heat to suit your frying pan/stove.
Pour just enough peanut oil into the bottom of the pan to cover to about 1/8th of an inch. [I always use peanut oil for frying because it works well with high heat and has a mild, pleasant flavour that doesn’t interfere with the flavour of the actual food].
The oil has to get hot but not to smoking temperature! To test the temperature, drop a breadcrumb into the middle of the hot oil. If the crumb immediately sizzles, the oil is ready.
When the oil is hot enough, gently place a couple of pieces of schnitzel in the pan, taking care to leave enough room around each piece so they all cook evenly. Now comes the critical step!
Turn the heat down as low as it will go and put a big lid over the top.
[The lid keeps the meat cooking at just the right temperature so it becomes tender but not dry and chewy].
When you hear activity from beneath the lid [5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat and the heat of the oil], lift the lid and have a look. If the bottom of the meat is golden brown, flip each piece over and fry them for a few minutes more, without the lid, to make the second side crisp and crunchy.
[I did make schnitzel last night, but I forgot to take photos so this one is from freeimages.com. The shallow frying technique is exactly the same though.]
When frying the second side, be careful not to burn it. [The meat is already cooked so it browns much faster than the first side!]
Once both sides are golden brown, remove the meat from the pan and drain on absorbent paper or a few slices of bread.
Repeat the exact same cooking process until all the meat is cooked. [You may have to add a little extra oil between batches]. The schnitzel will be tender and juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.