Today was the birthday of one of the Messers Mini-Buffy. On their birthdays, like death row inmates, they can have anything they want for their meal. He didn't want to go out - my boy wanted Jäger schnitzel. Which made me happy.
These are the foods of my childhood...my dad could cook like a boss. He was born in Germany so for me nutmeg in savory dishes is taste of home. Comfort food. It's family.
But this meal wouldn't be in any heart smart cookbook...we do eat much lighter most of the time but birthday are a time for decadence so there no low fat anything in the dishes below.
Jäger schnitzel. Schnitzel is a breaded cutlet of some kind - typically pounded flat first. It's the German version of chicken fried steak but not steak. In this instance it's pork. While I can schnitzel anything the Jager refers to the particular mushroom sauce. There are significant variations of the sauce but mine is the only one I consider correct because I have a very narrow world view.
I start with pork cutlets and pound them with a tenderizer. Mine are not very flat...if I want the big guns I get Mr. Buffy to do the hammering. Whlst i complain about how loud he is. Doing something I asked him to do. I'm not a reasonable woman but fortunately he decided to find this cute.
In frying pans I have butter and a splash of olive oil which ups the burn point. You want the oil quite hot when the meat hits the metal so it gets that lovely brown crisp on the breeding. If the oil isn't hot enough the oil soaks in without crisping and no one wants a greasy schnitzel.
Before the schnitzel hits the pan, they get a bath in whisked eggs, dunked in flour (seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg), back into the egg, then coated in breadcrumbs. They cook for several minutes on each side until the breeding is browned and the insides coked through.
My dad made a lot of pork when I was growing up, but never once without reminding us that undercooked pork will kill you. Not can. Will. I grew up seeing zero difference between undercooked pork and a live grenade without its pin.
Cooked oroperly the pork will be tender and juicy. I'm not a fan of pork (which my father considered a sacrilege, but really had only himself to blame for making it so scary) but it's okay done this way if not overcooked.
While cooking the schnitzel, sauté one small- med yellow onion (fine dice) and a couple packages of mushrooms (rough chop) in some butter and olive oil. When onions are translucent and mushrooms nicely cooked remove from pan but leave the butter/oil for later.
After the pork is done take that oil and drippings and add it to the mushroom onion pan - it won't be much. Add butter (editing to correct typo because this originally said 'ass butter' which is more amusing, but kind of gross) until you have about 4 tablespoons of butter/oil. When hot add a couple tablespoons of flour. Stir immediately to make a roux...I HATE making roux because I almost always screw it up - but today I was lump free. Stir continually for about 3 minutes until it's all a light brown - this cooks the raw taste out of the flour.
Then add about 1/2 cup of red wine (some recipes call for sherry but I don't drink wine and am not wuite sure what sherry is so if you want that kinda fancy pants cooking go google epicurious and stop judging me) and 2 cups of beef broth. If the broth is warm it will speed up the process. Once it reduces a little bit add 3-4 table spoons heavy cream and once incorporated add the mushrooms/onions back.
I added too much cream - tasted okay but ruined the color.
some versions are more like a gravy....mine is a sauce. I hate thick gravy and wouldn't be evangalizing it here. In fact I think what most people consider gravy is inedible enough to call into question its inclusion under the umbrella of food. But I digress.
Serve and sauce the schnitzel on the plate.
But we cannot live by schnitzel alone so we need side dishes.
Peirogis - mushroom sauerkraut
Our local polish deli has fabulous homemade mushroom and saurkraut pierogi. The birthday boy's favorite, and one of the two items on the menu not from my childhood. Mr Buffy taught them the pierogi love. Boil until they float to the top of the water and remove from pot. After they dry for a little bit fry in butter to brown.
Rotkohl (red cabbage):
Since discovering this Aunt Nellie makes a red cabbage that is indistinguishable from mine once I add a little bacon I let her do the heavy lifting on this one. Made some extra bacon at breakfast - dice and add and heat through. Voila.
roasted cauliflower:. I wasn't planning on making this today, but I had it from earlier in the week and wanted to use it while still fresh. This is my go to for almost all veggies. I used to hate vegetables - but then I realized that roasted some are actually delicious.
Core the cauliflower and cut into florets. Put in large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, toss in a tsp of minced garlic, salt and pepper. Shake until all cauliflower is coated and spread on cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes.
Also works great for broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and Brussels sprouts.
Rahmspinat (creamed spinach):
i used 3 packages of frozen spinach. It's important to cook and drain completely because if not drained the green water mixes with the sauce and it turns a very unappealing color.
While spinach is steaming melt about 4 tbsp of butter in a pan. Once melted add about a tsp of minced garlic...then 2 tblsp of flour for a roux and stir constantly so it's lump free. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and sitir until thickened and add to spinach. I know a lot of people also use cheese - Parm or Gruyere but I'm not a fan of cheese so that will never happen at chez Buffy.
It didn't come out right. Under sauced and under seasoned. If this were Top Chef I'd totally be packing my knives.
Love. My favorite side dish of all time and so easy to make. Flour, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg. That's it. Parsley if you want to get fancy. They're a simple little pasta named because someone once thought they looked like little sparrows. I don't see it, but it's all about taste with these little guys.
simple ratio - for every cup of flour you add 2 eggs and 1/4 cup milk. Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste in the fliour. Beat the eggs and combine with milk - combine using hollow in the flour.
While making the dough put a pot of salted water on to boil.
add to spätzle maker and drop into boiling water.
It just takes a very few minutes for them to rise to the top of the water and they're done.
Strain and once dry fry lightly in butter. Fancy people will sprinkle with fresh parsley. I was fancy today.
Final result - between dinner and the cake I was in the kitchen for 6 hours today. They finished dinner in less than 6 minutes. My baby had what he wanted for his birthday dinner and that's all that matters.