Despite my computer's calendar telling me it's March, the snow that refuses to disappear says otherwise. Mother Nature hasn't relented yet this year, we've still been busy planning for the impending spring. Besides just the warmer weather and longer daylight hours, of the more exciting things is that we're planning on expanding our family. That's right, we're getting BEES.
One day last month, to my simultaneous dismay and excitement, I got back from a business trip and found that Michael had transformed our tiny apartment into a temporary woodshop to craft this beautiful Warre bee hive for our new bees, which are going to be kept at our place upstate. Not only will they be a steady source of local honey, but they'll help pollinate our fruit trees when they're big enough.
So, even though spring has some exciting new things in store, our Sunday suppers have still been of the cozy variety. Enter Jaegerschnitzel - "hunter's cutlets" in German - which is a thin breaded pork cutlet topped with a rich mushroom gravy and a heaping side of red cabbage braised in apple cider vinegar. The last thing I'll do here is claim authenticity with this recipe, but I will insist that you make this for dinner and maybe invite me over while you're at it.
Breaded Pork Chops (Schnitzel)
- 4 center cut boneless pork chops, cut less than an inch thick
- 2 cups plain breadcrumbs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- salt and pepper
- Canola or vegetable oil, for frying, about 2 cups
Creamy Mushroom Gravy
- 3 slices thick cut bacon
- 1 pound baby cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/4 cup whole milk or half and half
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cups low sodium chicken or beef broth
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
Baron von Bären's Braised Red Cabbage with Apples
- 1/2 medium head of red cabbage, shredded (approximately 4-5 cups)
- 2 granny smith apples, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons dark or light brown sugar
- 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- pinch of cinnamon
At least four hours before dinner, soak the pork chops in the buttermilk. Cover and refrigerate.
Two hours before dinner, braise the cabbage. Combine all the ingredients in one pot. Heat over medium - low heat until steaming, about 30 minutes, and then adjust the heat to low until the cabbage is tender and melted and liquid is mostly gone from the pot, about 2 hours total.
Approximately 1 hour before dinner, start the gravy. Chop up the bacon pieces and crisp them up in a large skillet or saucepan with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. When the edges are starting to crisp, add the diced onion, thyme, and a bit of the salt and pepper. Let this cook for a bit until the onions begin to brown. Lastly, add the mushrooms and garlic. Give it all a good stir. Add additional olive oil if the pan is dry, or even a splash of the chicken broth. Take care to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. After an additional 20 minutes or so, the mushrooms, will have cooked down a bit, but still remain firm. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl. To the bottom of the skillet, add 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle the flour around the pan. Using a whisk, whisk the flour and butter so that the flour dissolves. Bit by bit, slowly add splashes of the broth to the bottom of the pan, whisking as you go to scrape up the brown bits. Once all the broth has been added, whisk around and heat until the mixture is bubbling. Lastly, turn the heat down to low and add the milk or half and half, slowly, while whisking. Add back the mushroom/bacon/onion mixture and give the whole thing a big stir. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed (I did). This can easily be reheated right before serving.
Lastly, prepare the pork chops. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse the pork chops of the buttermilk and season them with salt and pepper. While those are sitting, prep your space by laying out a shallow plate with the breadcrumbs and also lay a rack inside a jelly roll pan to place your finished pork chops on top. The rack helps the bottom crust stay crispy. Also pour the canola/vegetable oil into whatever pan you are going to use for frying (I used cast iron). Heat this to medium heat. One by one, pound out the pork chops between two sheets of plastic wrap until they are about 1 cm thick. Mine sprung back a bit while cooking, which is fine. When the oil has heated up, dip the cutlet in the breading until it's covered and gently place it in the pan to fry. Let it fry until each side is golden brown. Remove and place on rack and keep this in the oven to stay warm. Repeat with all of the other pieces.
Serve warm with a generous heaping of both the cabbage and mushrooms.