Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Almond Breaded Pork Schnitzel

     A Tasty Café Style Pork Schnitzel Entrée!
     There are a few variations of how schnitzel can be prepared with almonds, but there is only one traditional recipe that is called Almond Schnitzel (Mandel-Schnitzel).  Traditional Almond Schnitzel is cooked in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.  Almond Schnitzel is veal cutlets dipped in sour cream and dredged in almonds.  Breadcrumbs are optional in that old recipes, but purists allow no bread crumbs.
     It is somewhat difficult for an amateur cook to make traditional Almond Schnitzel correctly on a first attempt.  This is because it is difficult to imagine sautéing sour cream and almond coated veal cutlets till they are browned, without ending up with a big mess that sticks to the pan.  The cooking technique is not easy to master.  I used to make traditional Almond Schnitzel at a yacht club and it took a few practice attempts to get the timing right, so the entrée looked perfect.
     There is an almond flavored schnitzel that is much easier to make than traditional Mandel-Schnitzel.  This is what today's café style Almond Breaded Pork Schnitzel recipe is all about.  This recipe involves making a breading mixture that contains sliced almonds, then breading the cutlets just like making ordinary schnitzel.
     I have cooked Almond Breaded Pork Schnitzel at English pubs and French cafés as a lunch or dinner special du jour a few times during my career.  This entrée can be served plain on a plate or it can be served with an accompanying sauce.  Fruit sauces are the best choice.  Apricot Sauce is particularly nice with Almond Breaded Pork Schnitzel.
     Any time that a meat other than veal is used to make schnitzel, the meat has to be identified in the name of the entrée or recipe.  When just the word Schnitzel appears on a menu, by law the meat has to be veal.  When the meat is pork, the entrée name has to be written as Pork Schnitzel or Schweineschnitzel.

     Cooking almond breaded meat cutlets of any kind can be tricky.  Deep frying is the method that lower quality restaurants use.  Pan frying is the better method.  The tricky part is adjusting the temperature, so the almonds become golden brown and so they do not scorch.  
     Almond breaded meats cannot be pan fried at too low of a temperature or the breading will become saturated with fat.  At a medium temperature, the almond breaded cutlets will have to be flipped a few times to prevent scorching the almonds.  If the almonds are cooked darker than golden brown, then they will be bitter tasting.
     The almond breaded pork cutlets in the pictures were cooked just right.  Both the breadcrumb coating and the almonds are golden brown with no dark spots.  The cutlets were cooked over moderate heat and they were flipped a few times to control the rate of browning.  

     Almond Pork Schnitzel:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     There is almost always some breading mixture leftover when breading meats.  The mixture can be refrigerated in a container for 7 days. 
     Step 1:  Place 2 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 ounce of milk.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Whisk the ingredients, till they are blended.
     Set the egg wash aside.
     Step 2:  Place 2 cups of plain fine French breadcrumbs in a shallow wide pan.
     Add 1 cup of sliced almonds.
     Mix the breading mixture together.  
     Step 3:  Cut 2 slices of pork loin that weigh 3 to 4 ounces apiece.
     Pound the cutlets thin and even with a meat mallet.
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 4:  Dredge the cutlets in flour.
     Dip the cutlets in the egg wash.
     Dredge one cutlet at a time in the almond breading mixture.
     Gently press the breading mixture onto the cutlets.
     Step 5:  Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so there is about a 1/4" deep layer in the pan.  
     Add 2 tablespoons of clarified butter.
     Adjust the temperature of the oil to 350ºF.
     Step 6:  Pan fry the almond breaded cutlets.  (Fry 1 at a time if 2 do not fit in the pan.) 
     Allow the cutlets to turn a golden color on the bottom side before flipping.
     Flip the cutlets occasionally to prevent excessive browning.  Keep in mind that almonds only take a few minutes to scorch!
     Pan fry till the cutlets turn a golden brown color.
     Step 7:  Place the Almond Breaded Pork Schnitzel on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
     Place the Almond Pork Schnitzel on a plate. 
     Serve with vegetables and a potato of your choice.
     *The vegetables in the pictures were boiled buttered tourné potatoes, blanched broccoli and a fluted peeled portobello mushroom cap.  

     Simple and elegant tasting!  No sauce is needed, if the almond breading is cooked to a golden color. The almond flavor is plenty nice enough.  

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