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Milk Street: Schnitzel and Mashed! (Ep 517)

German Pork Schnitzel
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

During a visit to Berlin, we learned that the coating for authentic German pork Schnitzel, or Schweineschnitzel, is dry breadcrumbs made from kaiser rolls, which are extremely fine-textured. For ease, we developed this recipe using store-bought plain dry breadcrumbs, but if you’d like to make kaiser crumbs, which are a touch sweeter, wheatier and fresher tasting than prepared breadcrumbs, see the instructions below. Indian ghee (clarified butter) is a counterintuitive ingredient for Schnitzel, but adding just a small amount to the frying oil adds richer, fuller flavor; look for ghee in the refrigerator case near the butter or in the grocery aisle alongside the coconut oil. If you cannot find it, the Schnitzel still is tasty without. To fry the cutlets, we use a large Dutch oven instead of a skillet; the pot’s high walls safely contain the hot oil and reduce splatter on the stovetop. To test if the oil is at the correct temperature, an instant or deep-fry thermometer is best. Lingonberry preserves and lemon wedges are classic Schnitzel accompaniments.

Don’t use a heavy hand when pounding the tenderloin. A lighter touch works best to flatten the cutlets to a 1⁄8-inch thickness without inadvertent tears. After breading the cutlets, fry them right away; if left to stand, the coating won’t puff properly. Finally, when frying the cutlets, don’t crowd them in the pot or they will brown unevenly. Depending on the dimensions of the cutlets and the diameter of your pot, the pieces may need to be fried one at a time.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon plus 2 cups grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs (see headnote)
11⁄4-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ghee (optional)
Lingonberry preserves, to serve (optional)
Lemon wedges, to serve

Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven on the middle rack; heat the oven to 200°F. Put the flour in a wide, shallow bowl. In a second wide, shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the 1 tablespoon oil. Put the breadcrumbs in a third wide, shallow bowl.

Cut the pork tenderloin in 2 pieces crosswise, making the thinner end slightly larger, then cut each piece in half again. Place 2 pieces between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, gently pound each piece to an even 1⁄8-inch thickness. Repeat with the 2 remaining pieces. Season each cutlet on both sides with salt and pepper.

One at a time, coat the cutlets on both sides with flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the eggs, turning to coat and allowing excess to drip off, then coat both sides with breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Place the cutlets on a large plate, stacking them if needed.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the 2 cups oil and ghee (if using) to 360°F. Carefully place 1 or 2 cutlets in the oil—add only as many as will fit without overlapping—and cook, gently jostling the pot so oil flows over the cutlets, until light golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes total; use tongs to flip the cutlet(s) once
about halfway through. Transfer to the prepared rack in the oven to keep warm.

Return the oil to 350°F and cook the remaining cutlets in the same way. Serve with lingonberry preserves (if using) and lemon wedges.

How to Make Kaiser Roll Breadcrumbs:
Heat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the middle position. Tear 6 to 8 plain kaiser rolls (about 1 pound) into 1-inch pieces, then distribute in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until completely dry but not browned, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Cool completely, then transfer to a food processor and process to fine, even crumbs, about 2 minutes. Makes about 1 cup.

Croatian Mashed Potatoes
Start to finish: 1 hour
Servings: 4 to 6

Croatian restani krumpir is a hearty, rustic dish of mashed potatoes studded with onions that are sautéed until soft and sweet, oftentimes seasoned with paprika and brightened with fresh herbs. Our version, modeled after the potatoes we tasted at Samoborska Klet restaurant in Zagreb, is a one-pot recipe. The onion is caramelized, removed and set aside while the potatoes cook. Rather than boiling whole or chunked potatoes in copious water, we instead slice them unpeeled and steam them in the covered pot with only enough water to facilitate even cooking and prevent scorching. This keeps the potatoes from absorbing lots of moisture so the finished dish tastes rich and earthy instead of thin and washed-out. This dish is a perfect side to sausages, braises or stews.

Don’t forget to rinse the sliced potatoes before cooking. Rinsing washes off excess starch so the finished dish has a creamy consistency and isn’t dense and gluey. Also, don’t undercook the potatoes—they should almost fall apart when poked with a skewer so they can be easily mashed with a wooden spoon.

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and sliced about 1⁄4 inch thick
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1⁄4 teaspoon sweet paprika, plus more to serve
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives, divided

In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and well browned, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the onion to a small bowl and set aside; reserve the pot.

In a colander under cold running water, rinse the potatoes. Drain well, then add to the pot. Stir in 3⁄4 cup water and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, then distribute the potatoes in an even layer. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to medium and cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the slices almost fall apart when poked with a skewer, 18 to 20 minutes.

If there is water remaining in the pot, increase to medium-high and cook, uncovered and stirring often, until no moisture remains. Reduce to low, add the butter and cook, stirring and mashing the potatoes with a spoon, until the butter is melted and incorporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion, paprika and 1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the chives, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with additional paprika and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives.

German Cucumber-Dill Salad (Gurkensalat)
Start to finish: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Cucumber salad is the traditional accompaniment to German Schnitzel. This recipe is based on the salad we tasted at Restaurant Lohninger in Frankfurt. Instead of tart and vinegary, like Gurkensalat from other areas of Germany, ours is creamy but not overly rich. We salt the cucumbers after slicing. This step not only seasons the slices, it draws out moisture to prevent the salad from becoming too watery and leaves the cucumbers with a pleasant crispness. Champagne vinegar lends the dressing subtle acidity and brightness; if you can’t find Champagne vinegar, unseasoned rice vinegar is an acceptable substitute.

Don’t forget to toss the cucumbers once or twice while they are salting. This helps the moisture drain out of the colander. Don’t rinse the cucumbers after salting. A good amount of salt drains off with the water that the cucumbers release, so the salad won’t taste overseasoned.

2 English cucumbers, peeled and sliced into 1⁄8-inch-thick rounds
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar (see headnote)
1⁄2 teaspoon white sugar, plus more if needed
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 cup lightly packed fresh dill, chopped

In a large colander set over a bowl, toss the cucumbers with 11⁄2 teaspoons salt. Let stand for 30 minutes, tossing once or twice to encourage liquid to drain. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the sour cream, vinegar, sugar and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper; set aside. In a small bowl, toss the carrot with the chives and 1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; set aside.

Using your hands, firmly squeeze the cucumbers to remove as much water as possible; discard the liquid. Add the cucumbers to the sour cream mixture, then gently toss to combine. Stir in the dill. Taste and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Transfer to a serving dish, then top with the carrot mixture.

You can watch  past episodes of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street on WSKG Passport.

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To see other recipes from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street and other shows, visit  Cooking with WSKG.