Monday, December 8, 2008

Wiener Schnitzel Time!

Not Weinerschnitzel...

Wiener Schnitzel!

What's Guerrilla: Cheap beef is hard to make appetizing. Pounding, seasoning, breading and frying makes the best of it.
What's Gourmet: Good schnitzel doesn't look like much, but it's crisp breading and (ideally) tender meat is delicious!

Wienerschnitzle is typically made with veal, but since veal is morally questionable (and rather expensive) I went for regular beef. A brief digression*...

I worked from an America's Test Kitchen recipe to make this. They pointed out that a very thin coating was important in order to get both lightly cooked meat and crisp breading. If the breading is thick it will take three or four minutes to get crisp, and by that time the thin beef will be way overdone. You also need to use quite a bit of oil to get the right heat.

I guess my breading was a bit too thick, because it took almost four minutes per side to get nice and golden brown. A lot of the bread crumbs also sloughed off into the oil to form a gooey, oily paste that burned black and filled the kitchen, and by extension my small studio apartment, with smoke. When the smoke cleared, the steak was a little overdone and chewy, but nonetheless good with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of mustard.

Two thin steaks (about 1/2 an inch thick). The books recommend asking the butcher for thin slices of eye of round, but my butcher suggested slices from the "beef knucle" (it looked like a caveman-sized rump roast).
Lots of very fine, dry bread crumbs. Dry several slices of stale bread in the oven and pulverize them thoroughly with a rolling pin.
Flour seasoned well with salt and pepper.
Two eggs, beaten.
Several wedges of lemon.

Cover the steaks with plastic wrap and pound the hell out of them with a mallet, rolling pin, or the bottom of a heavy pan. Seriously, imagine the girl who broke your heart and the guy that beat you out for that spot on the basketball team (or the guy who broke your heart and the girl who beat you out for the basketball team - I shouldn't make assumptions) and wail away. Pat the meat dry with paper towels rub a little salt in on both sides, and leave to rest for a moment.

Get everything set up, because things will go fast from here. Start a good amount of oil heatinf in a large skillet. Lay the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs in three separate plates. Dredge the steaks in the flour and shake of the excess, then in the egg and shake it out, then in the bread crumbs and shake.

*I purchased two thin slices of beef knuckle (I think it's near the rump?) from the Alhambra Halal market. Alhambra's stuff is grass fed, which would tend to make it leaner and less tender, but Halal beef is also typically slaughtered younger (one or two years old), which would make it a bit more tender. Besides, I think American beef can be sold as veal until it's three years old, so the veal I would be buying would not necessarily be much more tender.