by Tara Pederson
Winter is slow season in the culinary industry. The bustle of holidays, the business of travel and needs of festival heavy months are behind or before us. The importance of every door chime is amplified by the echo of seats waiting to be occupied. But this time of year provides us with the opportunity to reevaluate the status quo, reorganize things, refocus and rekindle ourselves.
The thing is, in some way or another my every breath and thought flows into and out of this place. I am constantly (CONSTANTLY) racing my own thoughts, conjuring ways to put some edible love on a plate. And exceedingly aware that looks and feels different for every individual.
For you, love may be associated with apple pie or home made dumplings. With your mom’s baked ziti or grandma’s fried chicken. Maybe it’s entangled in memories of picking from your aunt’s blueberry bushes or shelling peas on a porch. But every time it wafts through your mind or across your palate, you feel it all over again- Home.
For me, the dish truly does depend upon the day. Whether I want to feed you a heaping breakfast, a multi component dessert or a multitude of herbed seasonal produce is really just a matter of mood.
If you could take a seat at the table of my mind and heart, you would see the fruits of my labors- you would feel my love of each ingredient, my joy of the process. You would taste the warmth of camaraderie and the comfort of home.
Each plate is an opportunity to say to another, “ I want to share with you the things that excite me. I want you to have just a bit of the delight that is preparing each ingredient with great care. Because I care about you.”
Hokey? Maybe. But nonetheless true.
As I’ve said, even in past editions of this very column, so often my way of sharing my enthusiasm manifests in the form of some sandwich or other. There is an art in spreading each component from corner to corner, building contrasts of flavor, texture, sensation to ensure the perfection of every bite. The thought is in both the recipient of the dish and the sandwich I’d like to devour for myself. It is greatness in a shareable experience of nourishment.
Today, I have schnitzel on my mind, because crunchy fried combined with sharp, fresh and deep taste bud teasers is right for all seasons and preferences. And always feels oh so good.
You’ll need: 1-2 thin cut boneless pork or veal cutlets per person
1.5 cups all purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups plain bread crumbs
Place your meat of choice between 2 layers of plastic wrap and pound to an even thinness (1/2-2/3 inch). Dredge each piece lightly in flour, dip in eggs, then coat lightly and evenly in bread crumbs.
Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a deep skillet to around 330 degrees. Cook both sides of each piece of meat until golden and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. (Do not over crowd the pan). Remove and drain before serving.
To serve plain, include a lemon wedge and parsley on the plate. Alternately, you can serve with mushroom gravy, potatoes and/or sauerkraut.
But my very favorite way is to lightly toast rye or pumpernickel bread, spread with dijon or brown mustard, top with swiss cheese and pan charred cabbage and toast until cheese is melted. Include the gravy and extra mustard on the side for dipping.