PRE-HEATING:

THE PERFECT VALENTINE’S DAY DISH, JÄGERSCHNITZEL.

My wife has numerable qualities that I fell in love with, but her love of food is one I cherish daily. Jägerschnitzel has always been one of our favorite dishes to make together at home. I included the recipe in Das Cookbook because the many memories I hold in my heart. Jägerschnitzel is both comfort food and simple elegance at its best…truly the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner.

 

Many Americans think of schnitzel as a specific dish, usually veal or chicken, that is pounded thin, breaded, and pan-fried. That version, which is very good, is called wiener schnitzel, or Viennese-style schnitzel.

 

But in Germany, schnitzel is a broad category for the way meat is cut. The word literally means “cutlets.” There are countless variations using different types of meat and all sorts of preparations (even a “natural” schnitzel, meaning naked with no breadcrumbs), and sauces, from cream to tomato-based.

 

Jägerschnitzel, or “hunter’s schnitzel,” has always been one of my restaurants’ favorites also. I wrap my version of this classic dish in prosciutto-like Black Forest ham to give it a nice, meaty crust.

 

Pound the chops a little thicker, more like ½ inch (don’t worry about the bone—just focus your pounding on the meat) and use whatever market-fresh onions and mushrooms you find.

 

How to Pound Meat for Schnitzel

Place 1 veal, chicken, or pork cutlet at a time in a large food storage bag (do not seal) or between 2 pieces of waxed paper. Bang meat with a heavy skillet or the flat side of a meat pounder until about ⅛-inch thick. It should be almost doubled or more in size, depending on original size and thickness of meat.

  • Never pound a thin cutlet with the ridged, tenderizing side of a meat pounder. It breaks up the meat. Use the flat side of the pounder or a heavy pan, like an iron skillet.
  • Buy a better cut of meat, especially when you are cooking boneless chicken breasts or pork. Go to a good butcher and ask for 1/2-inch-thick cutlets about 5 inches long.
  • Meat at many grocery stores today is inconsistent in size, particularly chicken and pork. Look for boneless pork chops or chicken breasts labeled “thin cut” or those cut less than 1/2-inch thick. If you can find only very thick cuts, slice the meat in half lengthwise through the middle before pounding.
  • When in doubt, keep pounding. Thickness depends on the dish. Typically, cutlets should be about ⅛-inch thick. If some of the meat tears, just bread and fry the smaller pieces.

 

Jägerschnitzel

 

Makes 4 Servings

4 (1-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops (5 to 6 ounces each), pounded for schnitzel to about 1/2-inch thick

Coarse sea or kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

8 paper-thin slices Black Forest ham or speck

⅓ cup flour

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 shallots, finely diced

4 medium cloves garlic, sliced in half

1 bunch spring onions, trimmed, or ½ cup pearl onions, peeled

2 cups mixed mushrooms, suchas chanterelle, oyster, and/or shiitake

1/4 cup dry white wine

½ cup Brown Veal Stock or Brown ChickenStock warmed

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, chilled

Generous splash heavy cream

1/4 cup chopped parsley

 

  1. Season the chops lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.

Wrap 2 slices ham around the middle of each chop like a package,

covering most of the meat. Lightly press together edges to seal

and dip each chop in flour to coat both sides, shaking to remove

excess.

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat 1-tablespoon olive

oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 chops and sauté until golden

brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook another 2 to

3 minutes to brown opposite side. Transfer to a plate and repeat

with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and remaining chops.

 

  1. Add shallots and garlic to same pan and sauté over medium

heat until just beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spring or

pearl onions and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to

soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Deglaze with wine, scraping up any brown

bits on bottom of pan, and cook until wine almost evaporates,

about 2 minutes. Add veal or chicken stock, bring to a simmer,

and return pork chops and drippings to pan. Continue to cook

over medium heat until chops are only slightly pink in center, flipping

once, about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness. Place

chops on serving plates and use a slotted spoon to transfer vegetables

on top (a few smaller vegetables can remain in pan).

 

  1. Heat remaining jus to a simmer and whisk in butter followed by

a splash of cream. Season sauce with salt and pepper and sprinkle

parsley on top. Spoon sauce over chops and serve immediately.