Antonis Achilleos
Active Time
50 MIN
Total Time
55 MIN
Yield
Serves : 4

Schnitzel has become a regular weeknight fix in my house. It’s quick and easy to prepare, but it also has a certain something extra. Not to mention how stress-relieving it can be to pound out a pork cutlet at the end of a long day.

The idea for using crushed pretzels for the breadcrumb coating came to me years ago when I was working on my first cookbook, Pretzel Making at Home, and I had a surplus of homemade hard pretzels on my hands. I turned them into pie crust; I baked them into cookies; I used them as a calamari coating; I even retooled Austria’s national dish into a pretzel-crusted version. Pretzels deliver an extra crunch, and that curious alkaline flavor that can only be described as “pretzely.”

On a trip to Germany many years ago, I had a thing with schnitzel. I ordered it at almost every restaurant I visited to try it with the various sauces and accompaniments. Potatoes and spaetzle are of course delicious, but my favorite pairing was the contrast of a bright green salad with the crispy, pan-fried cutlets. At home, that may be arugula, simply dressed with lemon and olive oil, but in winter, I find this heartier shaved brussels sprouts salad with mustard dressing and sharp pecorino cheese perfectly fits the bill.

Let’s talk about pan-frying. It can be intimidating, but the simple thing to remember is to get the oil hot enough so that a few crumbs sizzle on contact. Be patient and wait for this to happen, and your crust will turn out crisp rather than oil-soaked and soggy. You also want to avoid getting it so hot that the oil starts to smoke, because that results in off flavors. Speaking of smoke points, it’s a good thing to fry in olive oil. It’s a myth that extra-virgin olive oil shouldn’t be used for frying, or cooked at all, for that matter. On the contrary, it’s a stable oil with a high-enough smoke point to make it ideal for pan-frying, and it’s better here than other oils for both taste and nutrition. A few pats of butter make it even better.

As for what to drink with your Pretzel Schnitzel, an everyday-priced Grüner Veltliner from Austria is the ideal, if somewhat expected, choice for pairing, with its refreshing tartness and notes of fresh green herbs and citrus zest. It’s the perfect lift for a comfortingly crispy, just-rich-enough weeknight dish.

How to Make It

Step 1    

Whisk together mayonnaise, 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard, oil, lemon juice,1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add brussels sprouts; toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature up to 2 hours (dressing will slightly soften brussels sprouts).

Step 2    

Working with 1 at a time, place pork cutlets between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap; use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound cutlets to an even 1/8-inch thickness. Season both sides of pounded pork with remaining 2 teaspoons salt and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

Step 3    

Working in 2 batches, process pretzels in a food processor to coarse crumbs, with the largest pieces about the size of Rice Krispies, about 15 seconds. Pour pretzel crumbs into a large baking dish. Place flour on a large plate. In a wide shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and remaining 2 tablespoons mustard until thoroughly combined.

Step 4    

Dredge pork cutlets in flour, 1 at a time, shaking off any excess. Transfer to bowl with beaten egg mixture, and turn to coat, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat both sides with pretzel crumbs, pressing firmly to adhere and thoroughly coat.

Step
Step 5    

Preheat oven to 200ºF. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet, and place it near the stovetop. Pour oil to depth of about 1/4 inch in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet. Heat oil over medium until a pretzel crumb dropped in sizzles, browns, and then stops sizzling within 30 seconds. Carefully add 2 tablespoons butter, and melt. Add 1 or 2 cutlets to hot oil, and cook until crisp and deep brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Using tongs, transfer cooked pork to wire rack; keep warm in preheated oven. Repeat procedure with remaining cutlets, adding remaining 2 tablespoons butter halfway through frying. (Adjust heat between batches to maintain temperature as needed.)

Step 6    

Toss the pecorino into the brussels sprout slaw, and place a portion on top (or slightly to the side) of each schnitzel. Shave more pecorino on top, and serve immediately.

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