Kevin Terrell, Kerry Fowler and a few friends provided a helping hand to me when I got stuck in the mud at the Recreation Complex a few weeks ago. As I climbed a hill, the road suddenly turned into two deep ruts that swallowed my car whole. The crew that worked to renovate the complex took a moment, and a tractor to pull me free. Without their help, I would be wearing out a pair of sneakers as I walked to all my assignments.
As Robert Fowler used his little green tractor to pull my car to safety, Kevin and I talked about the “What’s for Dinner” column. Describing himself as a “meat-and-potatoes” kind of guy, he expressed some reservations about the pho I had planned for the weekend. He admitted that he loved Chinese food and could “eat it all day.”
A little later I visited Carolyn Bland, who runs the Senior Center on behalf of Pennyrile Allied Community Service, rather than the Pennyrile Area Development District, as I once reported. She said that there were a lot of “meat-and-potato” eaters in Cadiz, but that international foods were making inroads into Trigg County. I am lucky to live here, with a Mexican and Chinese Restaurant nearby. One local restaurant offers dinner buffets featuring Italian and German foods.
I always miss German night, for whatever reason, though have it on my list of things to try. Back in Florida, we had a few German restaurants. My favorite was the “Schnitzelhaus” run by Chef Mike Jacobi. The establishment’s slogan said, “Vhere zee food is as authentic as zee chef’s accent.” Jacobi would talk about his home in Bavaria with diners as he prepared the house specialty, jagerschnitzel, while tableside. Everything tasted great, and the atmosphere couldn’t be beat.
For Kevin and all the other “meat-and-potato” eaters in Trigg County, I prepared jagerschnitzel for Hawkins. That night, we watched Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette.” Most of the music came from my childhood in the 1980’s. Good stuff.
Schnitzel is a meat cutlet (veal, chicken or pork) that is breaded and pan fried. Jagerschnitzel refers to a sauce that the cutlet is served with. In short, it is a lot like chicken fried steak.
The sauce contains no Jagermeister, a well-know German cordial. Jager is the German word for hunter, so think of it as a “hunter’s sauce” to be served with game meat. For those that are curious, Jagermeister means “Master Hunter,” hence the stag logo on the bottle.
To begin, I bought a pound of pork cutlets for Hawkins and me to eat. The cutlets are already thin, and have been cubed at the grocery store. For an extra-thin and tender piece of schnitzel, I pounded the cutlets with a tenderizing mallet until they were extra thin. Coat the meat on all surfaces with flour, and then dip in an egg wash made with one egg, and a teaspoon of milk. Then I breaded the meat in a cup of plain breadcrumbs seasoned with an eighth of a teaspoon of paprika. Once well breaded, heat two tablespoons of oil and one of butter in a wide skillet on medium heat. Panfry the cutlets for about 15-20 minutes turning them frequently.
While the cutlets cooked, I worked on the hunter’s sauce. Start with 12 ounces of fresh mushrooms and slice them thin. Sautee two tablespoons of green onions in another skillet with a little oil to season the pan. Once the onions begin to soften, add the mushrooms and turn the heat to medium low. We are sweating the mushrooms, cooking them, yes, but also working the flavorful juices from them. Add a little bit of cracked sea-salt to pull more liquids from the mushrooms. The mushrooms will grow firm, and make a rich mushroom-scented broth. Mix a teaspoon of flour into a cup of cool, heavy cream thoroughly with a fork or small whisk eliminating lumps, and then pour the mixture in with the mushrooms. Add a quarter teaspoon of paprika, a heaping teaspoon of beef bullion granules, and a tablespoon of parsley to the sauce and blend well. Simmer on low to medium low heat until the sauce thickens. Add as much or as little pepper as you would like. Personally, I like a lot of fresh-ground pepper in the sauce.
My sauce didn’t thicken as well as I had hoped, so I may add another half-teaspoon of flour to the cream before I start. Otherwise, it tasted great, with a hearty mushroom flavor. Serve the schnitzel smothered in the creamy mushroom sauce. Plain schnitzel is usually served with a lemon wedge, but I love the hunter sauce over it.
Side dishes to include with the schnitzel include German potato salad (see last week’s column, or take a short cut with a can) potato pancakes served with applesauce, or spatzle- a small type of egg-noodle or dumpling.
I could not find spatzle or potato pancake mix, and did not feel like making potato pancakes from scratch. After a day on the job, I can be a little lazy. Germans love meat and potatoes, just like Kevin, so I decided to add some tater-tots to the meal. A popular condiment at German restaurants is curry ketchup. Most German grocery stores stock a pre-made version. To try something similar, I mixed five ounces of tomato ketchup with an equal amount of mayonnaise, a teaspoon of curry powder (I truthfully used about a teaspoon-and-a-half, just because I love curry), and a tablespoon of green onions. Mix it well, and spoon on the plate for dipping the tots.
There you go, for all of the Kevin Terrell’s of the world, a good meat-and-potato recipe, with a few unique twists. I purchased every ingredient for the meal locally, so to paraphrase Chef Martin Yan, “If I can do it, so can you.”
Hawkins raved about the mushroom-flavored sauce, though agreed that it could have been a bit thicker, otherwise, I think Mike Jacobi from the Schnitzelhaus would have declared it to be “acceptable,” in his authentic Bavarian accent. Next week, look for another “hunter’s meal,” this time with an Italian flair.With a hearty German meal, a good film, and an episode of Lost later in the evening, a good time was had by the two reporters of The Cadiz Record. Good eating.