Jaeger Schnitzel

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?

So…I did.

Jaeger Schnitzel translates to “hunter’s cutlets” and was originally made with venison or wild boar backstrap that had been pounded thin, fried and served with a mushroom gravy.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.

So…I did.

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?

Jaeger Schnitzel. It may not be authentic, but it's incredibly delicious.

Click the image to enlarge

Jaeger Schnitzel
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Plate the cutlets and top with the onion gravy. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.
  7. 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

 

Fried Okra, Revisited

The Young One is officially a college student and we are officially empty nesters.  And Beloved is officially going crazy attempting to track down odd noises in the house, which I also hear. (For what it’s worth, I think we’re so accustomed to noises from the second floor of the house that we’re hearing things that aren’t there.)  Things are still crazy busy in Sushi Land, but hopefully it will all start to wind down soon, and I can actually cook something again that is worth posting.

Now, on that note, we’ve begun harvesting the late summer crops from our garden; mostly tomatoes, but we’ve got some kale and chard ready to go – we’ve even harvested a huge spaghetti squash.  But among our favorite late summer foods is – yes, we’re southern – the humble okra.

Okra probably originated somewhere around Ethiopia , and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians as early as 1200 B.C.  It came to Caribbean and the U.S. in the 1700s, probably brought by slaves from West Africa, and was introduced to Western Europe soon after.  Despite the fact we treat it like a vegetable, like tomatoes, okra is really a fruit.

And a tasty, tasty fruit it is!  Many people don’t like okra because of its mucilaginous quality, which is a polite way of saying that it can get “slimy” when cooked.  Leaving the pods intact, such as Roasted Okra, combining it with acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes (Tomato Okra Soup) or vinegar, or long, slow cooking, such as gumbo, will often help mitigate the sliminess.

Slicing, “breading” and frying it will also keep the “slime factor” to a minimum.  It will, in fact, turn the okra into a crunchy, delicious bit of heaven.  When I first posted this recipe two years ago, I just used almond flour as a substitute for the traditional white flour and cornmeal; delicious, but a little on the heavy side.  In this version, I replace half the almond flour with tapioca flour – it lightens up the coating, and helps keep it crisp.  A little more carby, perhaps, but still considerably better than the traditional version, and every bit as tasty.

Fried Okra is well loved in the south – and for a good reason!  This one is gluten- and corn-free.Click the image to enlarge

Fried Okra, Revisited
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sliced okra
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 cup tallow or other fat suitable for frying
Instructions
  1. Mix the almond and tapioca flours with the salt, pepper and cayenne in a shallow dish, such as a pie plate. In a small bowl, whisk the egg together with the water. Set aside.
  2. Melt the tallow or cooking fat in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat to a temperature of 350 F. Toss half the sliced okra in the egg wash and remove using a slotted spoon, allowing the excess to run off. Add the okra to the seasoned flour mixture and lightly toss until well coated.
  3. Fry the coated okra until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning once about halfway through. Remove the okra from the fat with a spatula or slotted spoon, transferring to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Repeat with the remaining okra. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 395 calories, 32.9g total fat, 74.4mg cholesterol, 492.4mg sodium, 263.8mg potassium, 19.9g carbohydrates, 3.7g fiber, 1.2g sugar, 2.7g protein

Fish Tacos

I’m running very late today – we’re still quite swamped at work and the Insomnia Fairy decided to pay me a visit last night; I’m operating on about 3 hours of sleep.

Oh, menopause, how I hate you.

Anyhoo.  I’ve talked here before about the famed 80/20 rule, made popular by Mark Sisson.  Basically, if you eat “cleanly” 80% of the time, the other 20% you don’t doesn’t impact your health too terribly badly.  Some people use their 20% leeway to consume things like beer, pizza and Snickers bars; we tend to use our 20% to eat things like Blackberry Buckle and Western Style Beans, along with the occasional serving of corn, rice or white potatoes.

This recipe falls under the things we eat 20% of the time that are less than optimal.  It’s high in calories, fat (albeit healthy fats) and carbohydrates, and certainly isn’t something we eat on a regular basis.  But it’s also not nearly as bad as, say, a Big Mac or a bucket of chicken from the Colonel.

The less than optimal part of this dish is, of course, the corn tortillas.  Which I happen to love, and am thrilled to have found a local source for some that are processed with just lime and salt.  Corn, like white rice, is one of those grains that falls in the “greyish” part of the paleo spectrum, and as Mr. Sisson explains to us, when made into tortillas, isn’t necessarily all that bad:

[blockquote]Corn tortillas are probably the best way to consume corn. By their very definition, corn tortillas are subjected to nixtamalization, an ancient form of corn processing that reduces antinutrients like phytic acid, unlocks B-vitamins like niacin, and fights back against mycotoxins. It also increases the available protein content of the corn while increasing the bioavailability of the calcium. In other words, it makes a fairly nutritionally-poor food a bit more nutritious.[/blockquote]

I can deal with that, so every so often we pick up a package and make something like, well, this.

Fish tacos are one of Beloved’s favorite Mexican dishes, and I’m rather partial to them, too.  They’re not hard; in this recipe I used perch filets, although any mild white fish would do, cut them into strips and dredged them in an egg wash then a seasoned blend of hazelnut and tapioca flours before frying them in lard.  The lime-cilantro sauce turned out better than I could have hoped for – drizzled over the crispy fish it was just wonderful.  And chances are you won’t use all of it, so the calories and fat content of the recipe are probably a bit overstated.

Of course, if you are avoiding all grains at all times or have a corn allergy, you can eat these in lettuce leaves and it will still be wonderful – it will also knock the carb count down to about 14 grams per serving, which constitutes “low carb” in my book.  If you want to avoid frying it, use a firm fish that stands up well to grilling.

Fish Tacos. Crisp and delicious, these classic fish tacos are served with an addictive lime-cilantro mayo!

Fish Tacos
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound mild white fish, cut into strips
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup hazelnut flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 cup lard, or other fat suitable for frying
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
  2. Heat the lard to 350 F in a large heavy skillet.
  3. Whisk the egg and water together in a bowl large enough to hold the fish; in a wide, shallow dish, stir together the hazelnut and tapioca flours, salt, pepper and cayenne.
  4. Dip the fish in the egg wash, then dredge it in the flour mixture until well-coated, shaking off any excess. Fry in the lard until the fish is cooked through and the outside is brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain briefly on paper towels.
  5. Wrap the tortillas in a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel and microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, turning halfway through.
  6. Place two tortillas on each plate; top each with some shredded lettuce, diced tomato and fried fish. Drizzle with the lime cilantro mayonnaise and garnish with thinly sliced red onion and a slice of avocado, if desired.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 592 calories, 39.8g total fat, 111mg cholesterol, 582.8mg sodium, 523.5mg potassium, 39.1 grams carbohydrates, 4.8 grams fiber, 2.5 grams sugar, 19.4 grams protein

Bang-Bang Shrimp

I’ve got a bad case of fuzz-brain this morning (don’t you wish YOU were menopausal?  ‘Cause I just have all the fun), so please bear with me.  I’ll make every attempt to be coherent.

Some time ago, I got a request from a fellow blogger to find a way to make Bonefish Grill’s Bang-Bang Shrimp more or less paleo.  Well, I’m always up for a challenge, and a challenge it was – for one thing, I’ve only ever eaten at Bonefish Grill once and I did not have the Bang-Bang Shrimp.  For another, we don’t eat a lot of shrimp; the vast majority of the shrimp for sale in this country comes from either Asia or Latin America, where it is farmed in the aquatic equivalent of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).

Ewww.

I finally broke down a couple of weeks ago and bought a bag of frozen shrimp from my favorite natural foods store, hoping that it wouldn’t be too terribly bad.  A quick search of the interwebz told me that Bang-Bang Shrimp is nothing more than fried shrimp tossed in a sauce of mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce and a little sriracha.  The mayo and sriracha I had no problem with – it’s one of my favorite combinations, in fact – but we just weren’t going anywhere with that sweet chili sauce, which is basically sugar, water and xantham gum with a little chili thrown in.  Tasty stuff, but not something I keep in my kitchen these days.

It didn’t take much thought to decide to replace the sweet chili sauce with honey, red pepper flakes and gluten-free tamari, and I have to say it was just delicious.  It may not taste like the dish you get at Bonefish Grill, but it was good enough to have Beloved tell me repeatedly how delicious it was, and the man is pretty lukewarm about shrimp (he’d rather have crawfish).  The Young One didn’t say much about it at all, but I think that was just because he was too busy eating.

This is an appetizer on the restaurant’s menu, although I served it as a main dish.  The servings weren’t large; like most things that are fried and doused in sweet sauces, this is neither low in calories or carbohydrates.  But if you’re craving such a dish, it is certainly tons better than eating something that’s been coated in GMO cornstarch, fried in industrial seed oils and coated in refined sugar.

We’ve all got to make compromises in life.  Some are tastier than others.

Note:  For those of you who voted for the venison curry recipe for today, not to worry; you’ll get it tomorrow or Wednesday.

Bang-Bang Shrimp - A bangin' good, real food version of the restaurant favorite.

Bang-Bang Shrimp
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup potato flour
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 cups lard or other fat suitable for frying
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the mayonnaise, honey, Sriracha, tamari, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the lard in a large, heavy skillet over high heat until it reaches 350 F.
  3. Combine the tapioca and potato flours in a gallon ziplock bag. Liberally sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper; drop half the shrimp into the bag, close tightly and shake until coated. Remove to a plate, shaking off the excess flour, and repeat with the remaining shrimp.
  4. Fry the shrimp in the lard until pink and cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Drain briefly on paper towels, then toss in the sauce. Garnish with sliced scallions, if desired, and serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 463 calories, 34.2g total fat, 134mg cholesterol, 593mg sodium, 170.3mg potassium, 28.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 12.6g sugar, 11.3g protein

Pineapple Chicken

It’s a bummer that I can’t get Chinese take-out any more, especially since I love it so.  Even if I’m willing to consume a big, fat dose of industrial seed oils and white rice, I simply cannot tolerate the gluten in the soy sauce, to say nothing of the MSG that’s probably lurking in there.  (I know a lot of them say they don’t use monosodium glutamate, but it’s been my experience that THEY LIE.)

As a result, I’ve gotten quite good at making the kinds of dishes you get at your typical Chinese take-out place (see here, here, here, and here), and this recipe is a very good one.  The males in my household don’t share my love of cheap, Americanized Chinese, but they both inhaled this, with Beloved going back for seconds and telling me how tasty it was (he was also a bit bummed when I grabbed what was left for my lunch today).

I was a little worried the dish was going to be too sweet, but it really wasn’t; the acidity of the pineapple and the savory chicken – which was just delicious on its own, so juicy and tender – really toned down the sweetness of the sauce and created what was really a lovely, harmonious dish.

The list of ingredients is long, but many of them are for the marinade and sauce, and this really comes together quickly when you begin cooking it.  From the moment I began frying the chicken to the time I plated this for the photo, the time was probably 20 minutes all told, if not less.

This isn’t Whole30 by any stretch of the imagination – I did serve it over white rice, since I was in the mood, but grated cauliflower “rice” would work just as well if you are so inclined, and there’s coconut sugar and gluten-free tamari in it as well.  However, as cheap, Americanized Chinese goes, this is pretty darn clean.

And pretty darn tasty.

Note:  You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand – bell peppers might make it more authentic (well, as authentic as cheap Americanized Chinese can be) – I just happened to have zucchini and onion in the fridge.

Pineapple Chicken

Pineapple Chicken
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 cup lard or palm oil shortening
  • 2 cups zucchini, unpeeled, thickly sliced and cut into half-moons
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 can (14 oz) pineapple chunks, liquid reserved
  • water
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
Instructions
  1. Whisk the 2 tablespoons tamari, sesame oil, egg, pepper, ginger and 4 tablespoons tapioca flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the cubed chicken and toss to coat the meat. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
  2. Heat the lard or palm oil shortening in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Drain the marinade from the chicken and discard. Fry the chicken, in batches if necessary, until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside and keep warm.
  3. Combine the reserved pineapple juice with enough water to make 1 cup. Whisk in the coconut sugar, remaining tapioca flour and tamari until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Heat the ghee in a wide, shallow sauté pan over medium high heat and stir-fry the onion and zucchini until tender crisp. Add the pineapple and juice mixture to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon, about 2 or 3 minutes.
  5. Add the fried chicken to the sauce in the sauté pan and toss to coat. Serve over steamed jasmine rice or steamed, grated cauliflower.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 459 calories, 22.4g total fat, 149.7mg cholesterol, 367.3mg sodium, 515.9mg potassium, 25.1g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 15.7g sugar, 37.6g protein