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Ah, schnitzel: Can you think of another dish that boasts such a giggle-inducing name and requires you to pound it with a mallet before cooking?
We didn't think so.
Although most commonly associated with Germany and Austria, schnitzels — thin, boneless protein cutlets that are breaded and fried — span the globe.
Versions of it are eaten in Sweden and South Africa, Macedonia and Namibia. The dish is found throughout the Slavic countries. And while you won't find the citizens of Israel and Iran agreeing on much, schnitzels enjoy big followings in both nations.
Here in the United States, where they have long been staples in the German-American community, schnitzels are enjoying a bit of a star turn in a growing number of fine-dining establishments, due in part to the ongoing comfort-food revival.
Elway's executive chef Tyler Wiard shows us the secret to crispy fried meat. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post )
Pound to 1/4-inch thickness. (Photo By Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)
com/home.html" target="_blank">Budapest Bistro. The latter offers three takes on the dish: chicken breast and pork schnitzels with horseradish cream, plus a ham-and-cheese pork schnitzel. Yes, you get mashed potatoes and sauteed red cabbage with each.
Tyler Wiard, executive chef at Elway's Cherry Creek, offers an explanation for the dish's popularity that pretty much defies argument — well, unless you're a cow, pig or chicken.
"The no-brainer answer is that it's comforting," he says. "I'll just say it: Who doesn't like fried meat?"
Schnitzels can be made with a variety of ingredients: beef, veal, chicken, turkey, pork and lamb among them.
Flour, egg wash, panko. (Photo By Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)
The version served at Wiard's restaurant, which was developed by Robert Bogart of the downtown Ritz-Carlton Elway's and tweaked by Wiard, features a veal schnitzel with a caramelized onion waffle (Wiard's touch), a slaw made with Granny Smith apples and a lemon-caper butter sauce.
At Fruition, chef-owner Alex Seidel turns out a pork-shoulder version, pairing it with autumn squash spaetzle, a salad of caramelized Brussels sprouts leaves, and a Riesling-apple butter.
Not to be outdone, Euclid Hall's Jorel Pierce offers a double-decker chicken schnitzel sandwich on dill rye, packed with aioli and an apple-cabbage slaw seasoned with caraway.
Toss the chicken in bread crumbs. (Photos by Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)
"It's my opinion that food trends have made a general turn toward the technique and tradition of yesteryear in the same sense as 'throwback' football jerseys and thrift store sweaters," says Pierce, adding that schnitzel's inclusion on Euclid Hall's menu was a way to impart a Middle European, beer-hall feel to the room.
"I'm glad to say that dishes as simple, old and basic as this have such incredible staying power," he says. "A world without schnitzel wouldn't quite feel the same."
Schnitzels also don't break the bank.
"Part of the allure is that the meats used are usually not expensive," Wiard says. "And preparing it is kind of self-explanatory, kind of like fried chicken."
But like that staple of picnics and Sunday dinner, there is an art to creating a first-rate schnitzel. The techniques are simple, but attention to detail is crucial.
We asked Wiard to walk us through the schnitzel-cooking process from prep to pan. Here's a step-by-step tutorial to turning out the dish at home, plus recipes for making his weiner schnitzel with onion waffle, apple slaw and lemon-caper beurre blanc.
William Porter: 303-954-1877, email@example.com or twitter.com/williamporterdp
From Tyler Wiard, executive chef at Elway's Cherry Creek. He serves the schnitzel over savory waffles, topped with apple slaw and drizzled with lemon-caper beurre blanc.Serves 4.
4 3-3 ½ ounce veal cutlets (chicken can be substitued)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup flour
Black pepper, fresh ground
2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs available in supermarkets)½ cup clarified butter or canola oil
1. Place the cutlets inside a plastic wrap and pound to about ¼-inch thickness with a kitchen mallet.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together thoroughly.
In another bowl add the flour, plus salt and pepper to taste.
In a third bowl, add the panko.
Line the three bowls up — flour, egg wash and panko.
3. One by one, place the cutlets in the flour, then shake off the excess. Repeat with the egg wash. Lastly, put the cutlets into the panko, coating them and pressing them lightly into the crumbs to embed the crust.
4. Pour ½ cup clarified butter or canola oil into a hot pan and heat until sizzling. Add cutlets — the butter or oil should come about halfway up cutlets' sides. Do not crowd the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Caramelized Onion Waffle
Wiard makes his caramelized onion waffles from scratch. For most home cooks, it is probably easier to make the waffles from a box recipe, using a savory version rather than a sweet one.Ingredients
1 yellow onion, diced
Your favorite waffle recipe or mix
Saute onion in 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil until the pieces are a bit beyond translucent, but not brown. Cool the onions completely before removing them from the pan with a slotted spoon and stirring them into the batter. Cook in a hot, greased waffle iron until golden brown.
From Tyler Wiard.
1 Granny Smith apple
Sea salt, pinch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Minced chives, pinch
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Julienne the apple, using a mandoline if you have one. In a small mixing bowl, combine with salt, lemon juice, chives, olive oil and the apple into a small mixing bowl.
Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc
Adapted from Epicurious.com.
2½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
2½ tablespoons dry white wine or lemon juice
1 tablespoon very finely minced shallot2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon salt
teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon tarragon
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon capers
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, well chilled and cut into 16 pieces
In a small pan, boil the vinegar, white wine, shallot, butter, salt, pepper, tarragon, lemon juice and capers until reduced to a syrupy consistency — about 1½ tablespoons should remain.
Remove pan from heat and immediately beat in two pieces of chilled butter. As butter creams in the liquid, beat in another piece. Set the saucepan over very low heat, and beating constantly, continue adding successive pieces of butter as each previous piece has almost creamed into the sauce. Immediately remove from heat as soon as all the butter has been used. Beat in additional seasonings to taste.
Pull the chicken out of the pan after frying. (Photo By Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)
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