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.

Chicken Nanban

Chicken NanbanOur next stop in our Around the World tour takes us to Yokohama, Japan. Now the Japanese obviously have Sushi, but I felt that was too much of a “gimme” for the blog, that, and you can find sushi at every corner store these days, so I wanted something different. The Japanese have a version of fried chicken though, that was similar enough to be comfortable to Westerners, but different enough to be exotic. Enter Chicken Nanban! Originating in Kyushu, is a popular take on fried chicken covered in a sweet and sour sauce. One bite and you’ll never think of fried chicken the same again!

Nanban means European countries in old Japanese, and as the name suggests, it was influenced by the European settlers that came in Japan. As such, it is a Yoshoku dish, combining Western ingredients with Japanese taste. A little sweet, and a little sour, the flavors blend beautifully in each crispy bite. You might notice this recipe is a little different in that we dredge the chicken in flour and then coat with egg. No, that’s no mistake, it’s truly how the dish is made. Coating the chicken in this way evokes a tempura like texture with a light and springy bite, creating a really unusual and memorable dish. Then we briefly dip it in Nanban sauce to let it soak up all the delicious flavor! While it may look like a lot of work, the dish comes together really easily, so it’s sure to be a hit for with fried chicken lovers! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

Tartar Sauce:
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
3 tablespoons celery, finely chopped (about ½ – ¾ of a stalk)
1 ½ scallions/green onions, minced*
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 ½ teaspoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon lemon zest**
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Nanban Sauce:
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons sake (can be substituted with sweet sherry)***
6 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
6 tablespoons rice vinegar

Chicken:
3 pounds chicken thighs – boneless skin-on
3 eggs
vegetable oil for frying
flour – all-purpose for dusting
salt and pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean scallions/green onions.
** Click here for my tips on zesting.
*** Click here for the kosher alcohol list.

Directions:

To prepare the tartar sauce, add the boiled egg, celery, scallion, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice to a bowl and stir to combine. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

To make the nanban sauce, add the soy sauce, sake, sugar and ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute and then add the vinegar. When the sauce returns to a boil, turn off the heat.

Add 2-inches of oil to heavy bottomed pot and heat to 340 degrees F (test with a kitchen thermometer). Prepare a wire cooling rack positioned over a drip pan for once the chicken has fried.

Trim any excess fat off the chicken and lightly salt and pepper. Dust the chicken with flour. Beat the eggs in a bowl until uniform and then dip the chicken in the eggs to thoroughly coat.

Gently lower the egg coated chicken skin-side down into the hot oil and then drizzle a little of the remaining egg onto the tops of each piece of chicken. The drizzled egg will quickly expand and spread out. Use tongs or chopsticks to fold the egg back over the chicken. You may need to fry the chicken in batches.

Fry the chicken until its golden brown and cooked through (about 6-8 minutes). You may need to flip the chicken over once halfway through to evenly brown the top.

Transfer the fried chicken, fluffy side down to the wire rack and drizzle half the nanban sauce onto the smooth side. Flip the chicken over and then drizzle the remaining sauce onto the fluffy side. Slice and serve the chicken with the tartar sauce immediately.