Friday, November 6, 2015

Hähnchenschnitzel with Mushrooms en Brazilian Peppercorn Mustard Crème Fraîche








     Chicken Breast Schnitzel!
     Balance is essential when designing a German style recipe.  The flavors should create a feeling of warmth and satisfaction.
     The dining table is not always good arena for introducing new food items that challenge the senses.  The majority of the dining public only seeks familiar flavors and comfort.
     Designing new recipes that are made with familiar flavors that do not overwhelm guests is the way to please those who have conservative tastes.  This is best accomplished by studying the traditions of a cultural cuisine, then designing a recipe that has flavors that fall within the cultural cuisine guidelines.  For example, the sauce for today's schnitzel is made with Pink Peppercorns and Russian Mustard, but these items are nothing more than a twist upon traditional German cuisine flavors, so the end result is not too extreme for conservative tastes.
     On the other hand, if guests look forward to a challenging dining venture, then by all means go for it!  There are many chefs and restaurateurs that cater to a niche market that lives for adventurous dining experiences.
    Challenging new food items are best introduced during a chef's tasting event or as part of a multi course pre-fixe tasting menu.  Tasting events are a good medium for customer feedback.
     Newly created food items that challenge the senses can also be introduced as a complimentary amuse bouche offering when guests are seated.  The idea is to create interest and not force something new upon the guests.  If the reaction favorable, make a sale and serve it up or make a note of it and make plans to offer the item on a special menu while the "iron is hot!"   
    
     By German tradition and by European authenticity laws, when schnitzel is not made with veal, the name of the meat has to be part of the entrée title.  Pork Schnitzel is the most popular alternative offering.  Chicken Schnitzel and Wild Game Schnitzel both take a distant third or fourth place in popularity.  
     Schnitzel can be made any size, but the meat should be pounded thin.  By definition, schnitzel is made with small cutlets, but there are restaurants in Germany that serve gigantic Wienerschnitzel that is the size of an extra large 32" pizza!  
     Schnitzel can be breaded with egg wash, but buttermilk is best.  Schnitzel is best when it is pan fried in duck fat or pork lard, but vegetable oil is acceptable too.  Some recent studies show that hydrogenated oils pose a higher health threat than animal fat when frying food.  Besides, duck fat and lard definitely impart a superior flavor and color.

     Brazilian Pink Peppercorns have a smokey light black pepper flavor.  More pink peppercorn can be added to a sauce than black pepper, because the pepper flavor is lighter.  If the hollow pink peppercorns are simmered in the sauce, they can be left whole and they will become semi soft, but they will still have some crunch when chewed.  When bitten into, the pleasant aromatic pink peppercorn flavor is released.  Crushing pink peppercorns does release more flavor in a sauce, but the eye appeal is not as nice.

     Mustard is a traditional German sauce ingredient.  Care must be taken not to add too much mustard to a sauce, or the mustard will be the only flavor that can be tasted.  Balance is the key.
     Mushrooms are nice for adding richness to a sauce.  Mushrooms also mellow the flavor of mustard.  Mushrooms help to balance the flavor of today's German style sauce for chicken schnitzel.
     Today's recipe is fairly easy to make and it can be served any season of the year.  Chicken Schnitzel with a tasty sauce appeals to guests that eat no red meats.

     Brazilian Peppercorn Mustard Crème Fraîche:
     This recipe yields 1 generous accompanying portion.  (about 3/4 cup) 
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced sweet onion or shallot.
     Add 1/3 cup of petite button cave mushroom wedges.
     Add 1 peeled fluted mushroom cap.
     Sauté till the mushrooms are tender.
     Step 2:  Remove the fluted mushroom cap and set it aside.
     Step 3:  Add just enough flour to absorb the excess butter in the pan, while stirring.  (about 1 teaspoon)
     Stir till the roux is combined.
     Step 4:  Add 3 ounces of dry Riesling Wine.
     Add 1 teaspoon of smooth deli style German Mustard.
     Add 1 cup of light chicken broth.
     Add 1/3 cup of milk.
     Add 2 tablespoons of cream.
     Add 2 tablespoons of sour cream.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of whole pink peppercorns.
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Step 5:  Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin consistency.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Return the reserved fluted mushroom to the sauce.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin sauce consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Step 7:  Keep the sauce warm over very low heat or reheat the sauce to order.  (Add milk or chicken broth if the sauce becomes too thick.)

     Hähnchenschnitzel:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée portion.  
     There is almost always some breading mixture leftover when breading meats.  The sifted used breading mixture can be refrigerated in a container for 7 days or it can be frozen.  
     Buttermilk or egg wash can be used to bread the chicken.
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of milk.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Whisk the ingredients, till they are blended.
     Set the egg wash aside.
     Step 2:  Butterfly cut a 6 ounce chicken breast filet.
     Pound the meat thin and even with a meat mallet.
     Season with sea salt.
     Step 3:  Dredge the cutlet in flour.
     Dip the cutlet in the egg wash.
     Dredge the cutlet in plain fine French bread crumbs.
     Step 4:  Heat a sauté pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.
     Add enough lard or duck fat (or vegetable oil), so the melted lard is about 1/4" deep.  
     Adjust the temperature of the lard or oil to 350ºF.
     Step 5:  Pan fry the breaded chicken cutlet.
     Allow the cutlet to turn a golden color before flipping.  (The chicken should be flipped twice while pan frying, in order to prevent excessive browning.)    
     Pan fry till the chicken schnitzel is a golden brown color on both sides.
     Step 6:  Place the schnitzel on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess grease.
     
     Hähnchenschnitzel with Mushrooms en Brazilian Peppercorn Mustard Crème Fraîche:
     Place the chicken schnitzel on a plate. 
     Spoon a generous amount of the sauce over the chicken schnitzel.
     Place the fluted mushroom garnish on the schnitzel.
     Sprinkle a couple pinches of minced curly leaf parsley on the sauce.
     Serve with vegetables and a potato of your choice.
     The vegetable in the pictures was buttered blanched broccoli. 

     This is a nice tasting café style chicken schnitzel entrée!

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