Friday, February 01, 2008

Today we have a Food Porn Friday exclusive from my friend, Jessica Gottlieb, who also writes. Many thanks for this beautiful and heartfelt foodie article in honor of her grandfather.

Wiener Schnitzel ~ Grandpa Alfie's Chicken

I'm first generation American. My Grandfather was a butcher. A German butcher. For those of you who didn't grow up in a German home that means that there is one way to do things, the right way. And let's not argue about it.

My Grandfather was nothing if not precise and his food was more than nourishment, it was nurture, it was the I love you that he could never bring himself to utter and the I'm proud of you that couldn't escape his lips. Men of that generation didn't say things like that.

Wiener schnitzel is traditionally made of veal and veal was the meat of my childhood but even a traditionalist like my Grandpa Alfie could see the wisdom of substituting chicken for veal, thereby saving a few dollars.

When I was a young adult living on my own my Grandfather used to prepare me wiener schnitzel. He would pound and then coat the meat and fry it halfway. Then he would chill it and wrap it first in wax paper and then in tin foil. These bricks of schnitzel would be presented to me so I "wouldn't starve". I'd defrost them and place the cutlets on a cookie sheet in the oven for half an hour and have a lovely home cooked meal.

The bricks of wiener schnitzel never stopped. I met my soon to be husband he loved my schnitzel (but only if it was chicken). During our courtship I made him many dinners whilst batting my eyelashes and hoping against hope that this magnificent and kind man would propose to me.

And he did.

After many years of marriage we had a daughter and we were pregnant with my son when my Grandfather died. Every schnitzel that came from the freezer was like one more kiss and hug from him. When my husband and my daughter would request Grandpa Alfie's recipe I'd groan inwardly, not wanting to deplete my precious supply.

But I ran out of schnitzel one day. My husband Robert requested it and after all those years (7 to be exact) I had to confess that it wasn't my own.

And no one had the recipe.

Seriously, none of us.

Between mad telephone calls to my Mother, Father, cousins and my Aunt we were able to piece together the recipe. It's not exact and I've never been able to pound the meat as evenly as my Grandfather did but I'm American and we have a little more flexibility in our recipes.

Wiener Schnitzel

1 pound chicken breast or veal cutlets
1 cup matzoh meal
2 eggs
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of breadcrumbs
Corn or Grapeseed Oil
A heaping dose of Love (required in every meal)

If your meat isn't already thinly sliced into cutlets do so now. About a quarter inch is perfect to begin with. Slicing meat this thinly can be difficult and you may wish to ask the butcher to do so for you.

Place each cutlet (one at a time) into a large ziploc bag and seal it with no air. Now take your meat mallet or a marble rolling pin and try to get the meat as thin as possible without creating any holes or tears in it. Try to keep the thickness even throughout the cutlet. I recommend using a plastic bag because bits of chicken flying randomly around the kitchen can get you rather ill and it's much easier to keep the mallet/rolling pin clean.

Remove from the bag and get it as dry as possible between paper towels. Do not skip this step as it is vital.

Next you will assemble two plates and a pie tin. The first plate will have approximately a half cup of matzoh meal on it. Then the pie tin which will be your egg wash. Beat two eggs very well with about a half cup of water, you'll end up with a very watery egg wash. The third plate is bread crumbs (I like Progresso Italian).

Take your very dry chicken and coat it first in Matoh Meal, next a quick dip in the egg wash and then straight to the bread crumbs. When you have it in the bread crumbs be sure to press firmly so that every surface is well coated.

It's very important to fry them just so. When frying foods you always preheat the skillet so as you're cleaning up the mess you've made dipping and dunking your chicken I'd have an empty skillet on medium heat getting warmed up. After a few minutes when you can feel the heat radiating a few inches up you are safe to add the oil, taking care to not let it get too hot and burn.

Fry the schnitzel until golden brown and drain on a paper towel.

It should be crispy on the outside but not too crispy and the meat will be soft enough to be cut with a fork. To honor Rosie's Southern Hospitality I served mine with fresh biscuits and a side salad.

And always a healthy dose of love.


  1. Rosie said...
    Bravo! Jess! What a lovely article for my blog you've written! Thanks you so much!
    Cappy said...
    Sounds good. I'll be right over.
    Hayden said...
    lovely memory, yummy-looking recipe!

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