Pork Schnitzel with Potato Salad

When my wife and I first started seeing a lot of one another, many moons ago (really, a number of moons that surprises me every time I check on them) she used to sometimes cook this meal for me. It was an old favourite from her childhood and something that, as an adult, she always asked her father to cook for her when she was visiting Home in Sweden, so it comes loaded with happy memories. The ability of smell and taste to instantly transport one back to a time or place is fascinating to me, and I think a lot of the meals we love the most have that quality; whenever I eat a Thai curry, I’m there, sweating, sat on a plastic stool in Bangkok; whenever I eat blackberries, I’m a child in Suffolk, gorging on them, straight from the bushes by the estuary, trying to save enough to take back to be stewed with Bramley Apples; and, whenever I eat Schnitzel, I’m that 21 year old getting to know the person I’ll live with for the rest of my life. Isn’t that a nice thing?

I’ve suggested the use of Japanese Panko breadcrumbs here, but if you have any stale bread, cut off the crusts, and stick it in the food processor for five minutes, or until fine and even. Nothing compares to home-made breadcrumbs. There’s simply nothing like them, and they’re free.

You will need:

For the Schnitzel

  • 6 Boneless Pork Steaks (anything will do for this, but I think a fairly fatty cut is no bad thing)
  • Two Eggs
  • A bag of Panko Breadcrumbs or, better still, some you’ve made yourself from some stale bread. (At a push, you can use some of those luminous orange ones, but you’re best off trying your best getting something a little better)
  • Some Plain Flour
  • 1tsp Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Plenty of Butter

For the Potato Salad

  • 500g New Potatoes or any waxy variety
  • 2tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1tbsp Greek Yoghurt
  • 1tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1tsp Grain Mustard
  • A small bunch of Chives

First, make the potato salad. Boil the potatoes, til tender, then drain and leave to cool (you can do this pretty much whenever you like, even a couple of days early). Cut them into even, bite-sized pieces, about 2cm cubed, put in a bowl along with all the ingredients bar the chives and mix. Snip the chives into small, 1mm pieces over the bowl with a pair of scissors, mix them in, and stick in the fridge til needed.

For the Schnitzel, one by one, put the steaks between two pieces of clingfilm, then bash them flat with a heavy, blunt object. I used the bottom of a heavy frying pan, but a rolling pin or meat tenderiser would do the job well. Keep bashing til they’re about half a centimetre thick.

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Set out three dinner plates, side by side. Pour a pile of flour onto the first, and add the paprika, and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper before whisking together. On the second, break an egg and whisk. On the third, pour out a generous pile of breadcrumbs. Dip the steaks one by one, first in the flour, giving them a little shake to remove the excess, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs, before setting aside on a clean plate.

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Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, add a generous slice of butter til it foams, then add the schnitzels, two at a time if you have room, frying for about three minutes a side, til cooked right through. Keep a close eye on the heat, regulating it as best you can so the breadcrumbs don’t burn. You’ll also need to add extra butter whenever the pan looks a little dry; the breadcrumbs will be absorbent, so it’s worth keeping a pack of better handy for topping up. Keep a warm plate in the oven (I think 50°C is the magic number) and move the cooked schnitzels onto it before frying the rest.

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Serve with the potato salad, lemon wedges to squeeze over the schnitzel and a crunchy green salad, tossed with a zingy french dressing and shaved parmesan.

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