German-Style Chicken Schnitzel

German Chicken SchnitzelSo one of my favourite foods on this planet is schnitzel. I don’t know why. I just love it. It is so simple, and yet, so easy to mess up! It can be over fried and dried out, or burnt, or greasy… or, worse, undercooked! Salmonella poisoning anyone? What I also find interesting is that depending on where you’re from, you can vary it to match your local dining style. Did you know that pretty much every culture has some version of schnitzel? I thought this week I would show some of the ways a simple breaded chicken breast can be adapted and savoured all over the world!

Today, we’re going to start off with a traditional German-style chicken schnitzel. Most people have heard of wienerschnitzel. “Wiener” means Viennese (from Vienna) in German, not pork or veal as some people think (those words would be Schweinefleisch and Kalbfleisch). But while the Austrians may have perfected the wienerschnitzel, the origin of the schnitzel actually goes back to the 7th century Byzantine Empire.

The story goes that the Kaiser Basileios I (867-886AD) preferred his meat covered with sheets of gold. And of course, what the Kaiser does, the wealthy soon copied, but not everyone could afford to dine on gold. The solution? An alternative “yellow gold” coating of bread crumbs was used instead. And the rest they say, is delicious history!

Ingredients:
6 (4-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼” thickness
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
vegetable oil (for frying)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 ¾ cups breadcrumbs
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley*
lemon wedges (for serving)

* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.

Directions:
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Fit a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not non-stick) with a deep-fry thermometer and pour in the oil to measure ½” deep and heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 315°F (you want a moderate heat here because chicken breasts are so thin, they will cook quite quickly).

Meanwhile, place the flour in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs and mustard together in another shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a third shallow bowl. Working with 1 chicken breast at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, dip into egg mixture, turning to coat evenly, then carefully coat with breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Working in 3 batches, fry the chicken until it is golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and season with salt. Top the chicken with parsley and serve with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Sweet Pickle Relish

Sweet Pickle Relish

Ahhhh relish… some people love it, and some hate it! And if you’re from Chicago it must be neon green! Well today’s recipe is for a classic version of the hot dog/hamburger relish, but without any high fructose corn syrup added, like you often see with commercial brands. For me, it’s not bad on the aforementioned BBQ treats, but I LOVE it in tartar sauce (simply add mayo!) or added to salmon or tuna salad.

For those of you who want a more unique vegetable relish, I suggest heading back to my recipe for Chow Chow (click here for the recipe), which is a variety of pickled vegetables cut up into a relish favoured in the South. No matter which relish you choose, as always, enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 medium sized cucumbers – finely diced
1 medium sized green bell pepper – finely diced
1 medium sized red bell pepper – finely diced
1 medium/large onion – finely diced
1 tablespoon pickling salt*
¾ cup white sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
½ teaspoon celery seed (not celery salt)
½ teaspoon mustard seed
⅛ teaspoon turmeric

* You have to use a pickling salt or kosher salt, not table salt, as the iodine with affect the pickle relish while it sits.

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the diced cucumbers, peppers and onions, and sprinkle with the pickling salt. Toss to coat, and then let stand covered at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Once you have “pickled” the vegetables, pour the vegetables into a strainer and rinse well with cold water and set to drain.

While the vegetable mix has been rinsed and is draining, go ahead and get the seasoning mix a boiling. Combine the sugar, vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed and turmeric in a large pot on high heat. Once boiling, add the vegetable mix, and return to boil.

Let the relish cook on medium heat uncovered to let some of the liquid evaporate. It will be done once the vegetables have cooked through, but have not become mushy, and most of the liquid has evaporated. Allow the relish to cool, and then transfer to a covered dish or jar with a lid, and refrigerate. This will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge.

BBQ Ribs Rub

BBQ RibsSo I came across this recipe for a spice rub for ribs several years ago and thought I’d give it a try… Boy oh Boy! Through a few subtle tweaks, I think I’ve come through with the perfect combination of heat, sweet and spice that just sings on ribs (and would probably be AMAZING on a brisket!). For those that like their ribs sticky, you can finish off the cooking process by basting with a little of your favourite BBQ sauce at the end. This recipe will make you just over ¾ cup of rub, which will be good for ribs for the whole family. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Favourite BBQ Sauce (optional)
Ribs

Directions:

Combine all the spices together in a small bowl. Rub the ribs well with the spice mixture, making sure to coat every bit of bone and meat. At this point, you can let the meat rest in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or even overnight, or you can skip directly to cooking them.

If using a BBQ, grill the ribs on low for 1 ½ to 2 hours, rotating them every 45 minutes or so. If using an oven to cook your ribs, place the ribs in a large baking dish and bake at 250 degrees for 3-4 hours. If you like your ribs sticky, when the ribs are almost done, turn the oven or BBQ up to 350 degrees and baste the ribs with your favourite BBQ sauce. Let the ribs caramelize at the higher temperature for about 5-10 minutes. Remove the ribs from the BBQ/Oven and serve with lots of napkins!

This rub can be made in large batches and kept for up to 6 months in a dry container.

Tandoori Spice Blend

Tandoori Spice BlendTandoori masala (masala means spice blend) is a mixture of spices specifically for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional north Indian and Pakistani cooking. The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another, but typically include garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and may include other spices and additives. The spices are often ground together with a pestle and mortar.

Tandoori masala is used extensively with dishes as tandoori chicken. In this dish, the chicken is covered with a mixture of plain yogourt and tandoori masala. The chicken is then roasted in the tandoor at very high heat. The chicken prepared in this fashion has a pink-coloured exterior and a savoury flavor. For you kosher readers out there, try making this dish using non-dairy yogourt or water down some non-dairy sour cream to get a yogourt like consistency.

Other chicken dishes, in addition to tandoori chicken, use this masala, such as tikka or butter chicken, most of them Punjabi dishes. Meat other than chicken can be used, as can paneer (paneer is a homemade pressed cheese made out of curdled milk).

If freshly prepared, the masala can be stored in airtight jars for up to two months. The spice blend is also readily available at larger supermarkets and specialty Asian stores, with varying tastes depending on the brand. This recipe will make about 1 cup of spice blend.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl. Transfer to airtight container. Note: If your saffron is really fresh and doesn’t crumble easily, toast it in a dry skillet over medium heat until dark red. Cool; then crumble.

Chimichurri Spice Blend

Chimichurri Spice

Chimichurri is a green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina.It is based on finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar. In Latin American countries outside of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, variations often focus on coriander leaf (cilantro) for flavor.

The origin of the name of the sauce is unclear. The Argentine gourmet Miguel Brascó claims that the word chimichurri originated when the British were captured after the British invasions of the Río de la Plata. The prisoners asked for condiment for their food mixing English, aboriginal and Spanish words. According to this story, che-mi-curry stands for “che mi salsa” (a rough translation is hey give me condiment or give me curry). The word then corrupted to chimichurri.

Another theory for the name of the sauce comes from the Basque settlers that arrived in Argentina as early as the 19th century. According to this theory, the name of the sauce comes from the Basque term tximitxurri, loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order”.

No matter where the word or sauce originated from, it is delicious as a rub over meats and fish or if you want to make it into a marinade or condiment sauce, whisk about ½ cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar together with ¼ cup of the spice mix.

This recipe will make about ¾ cup

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
3 tablespoons dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
2 tablespoons dried thyme leaves
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried savoury leaves
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 to 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl. Transfer to airtight container. Note: This spice mix can be made 1 month ahead. Store at room temperature.

Hawayej Spice Blend

Hawayej Spice BlendHawayej, also spelled Hawaij or Hawayij, is the name given to a variety of Yemeni ground spice mixtures used primarily for soups and coffee. Hawayej is used extensively by Yemenite Jews in Israel and its use has spread more widely into Israeli cuisine as a result.

The basic mixture for soup is also used in stews, curry-style dishes, rice and vegetable dishes, and even as a barbecue rub. It is made from cumin, black pepper, turmeric and cardamom. More elaborate versions may include ground cloves, caraway, nutmeg, saffron, coriander and ground dried onions. The Adeni version is made of cumin, black pepper, cardamom and coriander.

The mixture for coffee is made from aniseed, fennel seeds, ginger and cardamom. Although it is primarily used in brewing coffee, it is also used in desserts, cakes and slow-cooked meat dishes. In Aden, the mixture is made with ginger, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon for black coffee, and when used for tea excludes the ginger.

Yield: Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

⅓ cup caraway seeds (generous 1 ounce)
⅓ cup cumin seeds (about 1 ounce)
⅓ cup coriander seeds (about 1 ounce)
3 tablespoons cardamom seeds (about ½ ounce)
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
3 tablespoons ground turmeric

Directions:

Lightly toast the first six ingredients in a skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Be careful not to let them burn! Pour the toasted seeds and spices into a bowl, and allow them to cool. In batches, place the cooled seeds and spices in a coffee or spice grinder along with the salt and turmeric. Pulse the grinder in long, slow pulses to grind the seeds into a powdery spice mix, stirring inside the grinder periodically to evenly distribute the seeds. It may take a few minutes for the spices to reach the desired powdery texture. Store spice blend in an airtight container in a cool, dry pantry. Note: This can be made 1 month ahead.

Toasting and grinding the whole spices provides a fresher flavor than using pre-ground spices. However, if you already have ground spices and you don’t want to spend more money on whole spices, you may substitute ⅓ the amount of ground spice to 1 whole seed spice.

Sauce 1 – Velouté Sauce

Veloute SauceVelouté is a base for many popular soups and sauces. This recipe will make around 1 quart of sauce. These are the basic instructions:

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter or margarine (preferably clarified)
7 ¼ tablespoons flour
5 cups white stock, cold (chicken, veal, fish, or vegetable)

Directions:

Mix the flour and butter over medium heat in a heavy sauce pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until you’ve made a blond roux. Gradually whisk in COLD stock, stirring constantly to avoid clumps. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer until mixture is reduced to 4 cups (approximately 20 minutes). Strain, if necessary.

Notes:
There’s no need to season velouté… this sauce is a base for other sauces so it should be seasoned according to the small or compound sauce specifications.

Bercy SauceBercy Sauce

The Bercy sauce, named after a district in the east of Paris, is a finished sauce for fish and seafood dishes. It’s made by reducing white wine and chopped shallots and then simmering in a basic fish velouté. This recipe will make about 1 pint of sauce.
Ingredients

1 pint fish velouté
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
Lemon juice, to taste

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the wine and shallots. Heat until the liquid boils, lower the heat a bit and continue simmering until the liquid has reduced by a little more than half. Add the velouté, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and chopped parsley. Season to taste with lemon juice and serve right away.

Normandy SauceSauce Normandy

The Normandy Sauce is a classical sauce for fish and seafood made by flavouring a fish velouté with chopped mushrooms and then thickening it with a mixture of egg yolks and heavy cream called a liaison (click here for information on liaisons). This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups fish velouté
¼ cup fish stock
½ cup chopped mushrooms
½ cup heavy cream (or non-dairy creamer)
2 egg yolks
1½ tablespoons butter or margarine

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp of butter and sauté the mushrooms until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the velouté and the fish stock to the mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce by about one-third. In a stainless steel or glass bowl, beat together the cream and egg yolks until smooth. This egg-cream mixture is called a liaison. Slowly add about a cup of the hot velouté into the liaison, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks don’t curdle from the heat. Now gradually whisk the warm liaison back into the velouté. Bring the sauce back to a gentle simmer for just a moment, but don’t let it boil. Strain, swirl in the remaining butter and serve right away.

Allemande SauceSauce Allemande

The Allemande Sauce (which is also sometimes called “German Sauce”) is a finished sauce made by thickening a veal velouté with a mixture of egg yolks and heavy cream called a liaison. This recipe will make about 2 cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups veal velouté
¼ cup heavy cream (or non-dairy creamer)
1 egg yolk
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the velouté over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about a cup. In a stainless steel or glass bowl, beat together the cream and egg yolk until smooth. This egg-cream mixture is your liaison. Slowly add about a cup of the hot velouté into the liaison, whisking constantly so that the egg yolk doesn’t curdle from the heat. Now gradually whisk the warm liaison back into the velouté. Bring the sauce back to a gentle simmer for just a moment, but don’t let it boil. Season to taste with Kosher salt, white pepper and lemon juice. Strain and serve right away.

Sauce SupremeSauce Suprême

The Suprême Sauce is a finished sauce made by enriching a chicken velouté sauce with heavy cream. This recipe will make about 1 quart of sauce.

Ingredients:

1 quart chicken velouté
1 cup heavy cream or non-dairy creamer
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

Directions:

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, gently heat the heavy cream to just below a simmer, but don’t let it boil. Cover and keep warm. Heat the velouté in a separate saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about a cup. Stir the warm cream into the velouté and bring it back to a simmer for just a moment. Stir in the butter, season to taste with Kosher salt and white pepper and just a dash of lemon juice. Strain through cheesecloth and serve right away.