This week we uncover the secrets to two German specialties. The first is Kalb Schnitzel– better known as Wiener Schnitzel. In order to officially call it Wiener Schnitzel, it must be made with Kalb Fleisch, Kleine Kuh, or baby cow a.k.a. veal. If it is made with regular cow or with pork, as it most often is, it cannot be called Wiener Schnitzel and most often will be listed in a menu as “Schnitzel, like Wiener Schnitzel.” This evening we made Kartoffel salat (German Potato Salad), another favorite, to go with it.
First the shopping:
Now when we go to the grocery store, we try to avoid the rude, unenthusiastic lady from the 2nd episode of Cooking with Jola at all costs. To do this Jola goes directly for the Metzger himself, (the Butcher) someone she can really talk to about the cut and quality of the meat.
Next the Kartoffel Salat:
To start Jola and Heinz had a few important tips. First, the potatoes they use are not too big or too starchy. They boil them whole with skins on and then peel them. (Cutting or peeling them before boiling ruins the texture they say.) Heinz is in charge of the potatoes and uses this really small hand tool to do the peeling once the potatoes have cooled. Jola then slices them with a paring knife. I actually got to help when Jola let me cut the potatoes! We added one small onion, very finely chopped, to the potatoes and set them aside.
Then in a small pot they created the dressing with the following ingredients: Pickle juice, 4 or 5 sweet and sour pickles chopped, pinch of sugar, water, good amount of walnut oil, grated nutmeg, salt, pepper, and a dash of Jola’s favorite flavor enhancer, something called, “Universelle Würzmischung,” basically universal seasoning mix. (It contains salt, sage, carrot, and onion mixed with a few other things.) She uses this seasoning in almost everything for a little flavor boost.
Jola combined all the ingredients in a sauce pan, heating it on the stove but never bringing it to a boil. Then she slowly poured the liquid over the potatoes, a little at a time, letting it absorb each time before adding more. She was very emphatic about the fact that you should not refrigerate Kartoffel Salat. It’s the good the day you make it and the next day and after that it should be thrown away.
Then the Schnitzel:
We used 6 pieces of Kalb Fleisch for 4 people but we definitely had leftovers. Wash the meat and dry it. Place it between plastic wrap and pound it with the meat hammer to make it thin.
Salt and Pepper it and then prepare one plate with bread crumbs (Semmelbrösel) and one plate with whisked eggs (Eier). First dip the meat in the egg, then in the bread crumbs *Delicious secret: Do it again (yes, dip it in the egg again and then the bread crumbs a second time!)
Then add 1/2 sunflower margarine and 1/2 Butter Schmalz to a skillet. (I’m not sure about the significance of Butter Schmalz but it is basically clarified butter that you can buy at the store. It seems to add flavor and help with the evenness of the cooking.) Heat the skillet on high. Add the breaded schnitzel. Cook slowly, lowering temperature to medium high. This should take 15-20 minutes. You can place a few pieces in the pan at a time just depends on the size of your pot. You turn it once around 7 minutes, adding more Butter Schmalz maybe even lowering again to 5 or 6. Do not burn.
Please note we did not have Klöße on this evening. I thought Klöße went with everything but apparently Klöße does not go with Schnitzel. Traditional foods seem to have very specific combinations. Only certain things are acceptable served on the plate with certain other things. It’s very entertaining to me to listen to people talk about these traditions. Being that I’m new to these traditions, they seem kind of random. But they are obviously serious business so I don’t want to mess them up!
One of the most hilarious and fun things about cooking with Jola is that she teaches me Franconian while we cook. Or if I’m really good, I’ll pick up a Franconian word during the week and impress her with it on our cooking day.
Will we cook more meals together?
Freilich! (Of course!)
Will I ever be as good a cook as Jola?
Schau mal mal (We shall see…)