Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pork Loin Schnitzel over Sweet Sour Banana Squash and Winter Vegetables

     Hearty German Style Comfort Food!
     When looking at a special du jour menu at the average American craft brew pub, tavern or local diner, a customer occasionally will see a token German style entrée offered during the fall and winter season.  Nine times out of ten, the German style special du jour will be Bratwurst & Sauerkraut.  More often than not, the dinner special is made with cheap low quality greasy bratwurst and canned sauerkraut that is not even prepared properly.  A German style dinner special like this is not worth writing home about, so why bother putting it on the special board!
     Offering the same old seasonal food items year after year is what many restaurants do.  This marketing strategy is good, if the food is well prepared.  If quality is not the name of the game, then a customer will remember how disappointing the Bratwurst & Sauerkraut special du jour was last year.  The customer might even say something like, "Does your chef know how to make any other kind of German food?  Or does the chef only know how to cook sausage and sauerkraut?"
     Obviously, if a customer inquires, then a customer shows interest.  In this case, a customer may be interested in German food, but only the same old Bratwurst & Sauerkraut special is offered.  The solution is to step up the quality and use a little bit of imagination when selecting a German style recipe for a seasonal special du jour.  There is more to German cuisine than just sauerkraut and sausage!                
     Today's German style pork schnitzel and root vegetable recipe is comfortable, hearty, easy to recognize and it is fairly healthy.  It can be modestly priced as a special du jour, because it is cheap to make.  It will certainly please modern customers that are interested in German style winter food, yet a customer might as well plan on cooking this at home, because the local diner chef will probably decide to run the same old worn out Bratwurst & Sauerkraut special once again!  Ce est la vie!  
     The Banana Squash and root vegetables are braised in a sweet sour sauce.  German style sweet sour sauces usually are on the delicate side.  Winter spices are first choice in this style of sauce.  The sour usually comes from cider vinegar.  This kind of sauce tastes great with banana squash, winter vegetables and pan fried pork schnitzel.
     Banana Squash are huge.  Just imagine a banana that weighs about 25 to 30 pounds!  This is what a Banana Squash kind of looks like.  Banana Squash come in a variety of colors that include green, white, orange and multi color.  Banana Squash can be purchased whole, but most produce markets cut these big squash into large sections that are easier for a customer to manage.
     I purchased one fourth of a whole Banana Squash.  The flavor is lighter than Butternut Squash and it is sweeter than Acorn Squash.  The aroma is fruity and this squash does have a hint of banana flavor.  Banana Squash are popular worldwide and they are classified as a winter squash variety.  They are currently available and now is the time to give this great tasting squash a try!
     When using pork to make schnitzel, the word "pork" has to be mentioned in the entrée title.  Otherwise, if just the word "schnitzel" appears on the menu, it is deceptive marketing practice because the customer will expect veal.  This standard happens to be law in Europe.
     The pan frying medium does make a difference with schnitzel.  Duck grease is traditional and so is lard.  A combination of lard and oil is good too.  Pan frying schnitzel with just vegetable oil will add no flavor.  Buttermilk is traditional for breading schnitzel, not egg wash.  The bread crumb mixture can be 100% bread crumb or it can be combination of flour and bread crumbs.  

     Sweet Sour Banana Squash and Winter Vegetables:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion or 2 petite portions.   
     Step 1:  Select a section of Banana Squash that weighs about 10 ounces.
     Use a spoon to scrape out the pulp and seeds.
     Cut the section of squash into 1/2" thick slices.
     Set each slice on its side and cut off the rind.
     Cut about 2 cups of bite size cube shaped pieces.
     Set the prepared Banana Squash aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauce pot (or braising pan) over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the reserved Banana Squash.
     Add 1/3 cup of sliced Bermuda Onion strips.
     Add 1/3 cup of carrot that is cut into thick quarter wedges.
     Add 1/2 cup of peeled russet potato that is cut into thick bite size rectangular shapes.
     Gently sauté till the vegetables start to become aromatic.  Try not to let the vegetables brown.
     Step 3:  Add enough water to cover the vegetables with liquid.  (About 3 cups)
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 3 tablespoons of raw sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of all spice.
     Add 3 whole cloves.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 4:  Raise the temperature to medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.  (Do not cover the pan with a lid!)
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped kale.
     Simmer till the potatoes are fully cooked and the liquid reduces to a thin sauce consistency.
     Keep the vegetables warm over very low heat.

     Schweinelende Schnitzel:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion or 2 petite portions.  
     Step 1:  Place 3/4 cup of flour in a mixing bowl.
     Place 3/4 cup of buttermilk in a 2nd mixing bowl.
     Set the bowls aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1 cup of flour in a 3rd mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of fine ground French bread crumbs.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together and set the bowl aside.
     Step 3:  Cut 4 thin slices of boneless pork loin that are about 1/4" thick and weigh about 2 ounces apiece.
     Trim off any excess fat.
     Use a mallet to pound the pork cutlets thin.
     Step 4:  Lightly season the pork cutlets with sea salt and white pepper.
     Dredge the pork cutlets in the bowl of plain flour.
     Dip the pork cutlets in the buttermilk.
     Dredge the pork cutlets in the bowl of seasoned flour and bread crumbs.
     Step 5:  Heat a wide sauté pan (or cast iron skillet) over medium heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of pork lard.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the level of oil and melted lard is about 3/8" deep.
     Adjust the temperature, so the oil ands lard is 350ºF.
     Step 6:  Place the breaded pork cutlets in the hot oil and lard.  (Fry in batches if necessary.)
     Pan fry the pork cutlets on both sides, till they are golden brown  (Try to flip the cutlets only once.)
     Step 7:  Use tongs to place the pork schnitzel on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Keep the 4 pork schnitzel warm on a stove top.

     Pork Loin Schnitzel over Sweet Sour Banana Squash and Winter Vegetables:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.  (For 2 petite portions, place 1/2 on each plate.)
     Step 1:  Place a generous portion of the Sweet Sour Banana Squash and Winter Vegetables on a plate as a bed for the pork schnitzel.
     Overlap the 4 Pork Loin Schnitzel over the bed of vegetables.
     Step 2:  Garnish the pork schnitzel with a few cilantro leaves.

     Viola!  A tasty comfortable German style entrée for the autumn and winter seasons!

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