Not too far from our office in Podunk is a small German restaurant. We used to eat lunch there occasionally before we changed our diet, and the item on the menu that Beloved liked best was the Jaeger Schnitzel. It was a massive pork cutlet breaded and deep fried, topped with an onion-mushroom gravy and something they said was sauerkraut. I was kind of “meh” about it, but he enjoyed it so I never really gave the dish much thought.
It occurred to recently that we haven’t been to this restaurant in over two years; since I’m not a huge fan of German food I haven’t missed it at all. But it also occurred to me that I had some pork loin chops in the freezer and a brand new batch of sauerkraut in the fridge, so why not make it myself?
Jaeger Schnitzel translates to “hunter’s cutlets” and was originally made with venison or wild boar backstrap that had been pounded thin, fried and served with a mushroom gravy. (Since I’ve never eaten wild boar backstrap, I’ll reserve judgement on whether or not that is a good way to prepare it, but I recoil in horror at the thought of pounding what is probably my favorite cut of red meat in the world – venison backstrap – into a cutlet and frying it up.)
There’s a lot of debate over whether or not to bread it – apparently the original recipe called for simply dredging it in flour, if it was given any type of coating at all – but it’s generally accepted that pork is the meat of choice (if you use veal cutlets and bread them, it becomes wienerschnitzel). However, it seems that this is one of those dishes that has many variations, all of which are based on personal preference: cook it the way you like it best.
Most recipes call for onions, mushrooms, beef stock and red wine. I had no mushrooms in the house when I made this (which was fine – mushrooms is one of those things I have a fairly “take it or leave it” attitude towards) and I tend to lean towards lighter liquids when dealing with lean pork, so I decided to use just the onions along with white wine and homemade chicken stock for the sauce. I also decided to bread it because, hey – it’s breaded and fried. Being both from Texas and of German heritage, I’m rather partial to that preparation myself.
Was it authentic Jaeger Schnitzel? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Was it delicious served with my simple-yet-tasty fermented sauerkraut? Oh, HELLS to the yes. We both loved it; what else matters?
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- 1 1/2 pounds pork loin, thickly sliced
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 ounces thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons lard
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Using the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a small, heavy skillet, gently pound the pork slices between two sheets of wax paper to 1/4″ thickness. In a large ziplock bag, combine the tapioca and almond flours, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Measure out two tablespoons of the flour mixture and set aside.
- In a wide, shallow dish whisk together the egg and water. Dip a pork cutlet into the egg wash, then drop it into the bag with the flour mixture. Seal the bag and shake to coat the cutlet; set it aside on a flat surface, such as a baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining cutlets.
- Cook the bacon in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until crispy; remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat, reserving the remainder. Reduce the heat slightly; cook the onion until soft and golden, and transfer it the same plate as the bacon. Set aside.
- Return 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat to the skillet, increase the heat slightly and whisk in the reserved flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the wine and chicken stock and continue cooking. stirring frequently, until thickened and reduced by about half. Return the the bacon and onion to the gravy before transferring to a bowl. Cover and keep warm.
- Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and return to the stove. Heat the remaining bacon fat in the skillet with the lard over high heat and fry the pork cutlets until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Drain briefly on paper towels.
- Plate the cutlets and top with the onion gravy. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.
- Nutrition (per serving): 412 calories, 22.5g total fat, 125.2mg cholesterol, 968.8mg sodium, 675.2mg potassium, 15.8g carbohydrates, 1.7g fiber, 2.2g sugar, 31g protein