Cooking with kid: Schnitzel

[Note: This post presents a meal from about a year ago as part of the Cooking with Kid series. My goal was to cook a whole goat kid piece by piece and “to reasonably document and blog about the process in a somewhat timely fashion.” I’m still finishing up the last few posts, but my geological perspective allows me to consider this “somewhat timely”, and this dish is seasonally appropriate.]

I didn’t have an exact plan when I pulled a “piece of saddle–deboned, 11 oz” out of the freezer. The saddle is from the hips/pelvis, an intermediate quality cut, not as high end as tenderloin or loin but way nicer than neck or sides. As one of the few remaining pieces from the goat kid Crystal, I wanted to check off a few more cooking techniques and at the same time produce a delectable result. I settled on schnitzel, as it would let me pound meat for tenderization, bread it, and shallow-fat fry it.

Schnitzel with lamb's quarters and oyster mushrooms

cook_kid_schnitzel_forageI sprinkled the meat with lemon juice (a tenderizer) and salt, then collected some ingredients to go alongside it. These included some foraged lamb’s quarters (a tasty plant), foraged oysters (a tasty mushroom), and garlic scallions.

I was a little nervous about whether this was an appropriate cut for schnitzel. Some sources that I consulted had very detailed specifications about the orientation of the muscle grain relative to the cut for top-notch schnitzel. Such specifications can be met from a large animal, but the saddle of a small animal involves multiple muscles, and any cut I made would result in grain going in a variety of directions.I ended up cutting the meat into roughly two equal pieces.

cook_kid_schnitzel_poundThe most satisfying step in making schnitzel involves tenderizing the meat by pounding it with a meat mallet. In the past, I’ve followed the advice of cookbooks to pound meat between pieces of plastic, but I’ve had trouble with the plastic staying in one piece. Given that the weather was nice, I decided to take the meat-pounding exercise onto the porch and not worry about any splatter that might result. The meat mallet has spikes of differing coarseness; the idea is to start with the bigger ones and finish with the finer ones. The pounding results in a thinner piece of meat with more surface area. There is a certain level of satisfaction that comes from pounding the heck out of meat: making goat schnitzel is a safe and effective way to vent some frustration.cook_kid_schnitzel_prep_to_breadBreading meat is a little fussy, but the results are worth it. In this case, I dredged the meat in flour (left), then an egg mixed with a tablespoon of water (center), and finally some home-grown cornmeal. A bit of salt added to the breading ingredients is a good idea. One annoyance about breading meat is matching the amount of breading material to the meat. Many recipes call for copious quantities of breading material and assume the cook will gleefully throw out any surplus once it is raw-meat-juice contaminated. I have a deep hatred for food waste, particularly when my sweat went into the production of the ingredients, so I had an alternate plan. Those oyster mushrooms could also be breaded and fried and would work nicely to mop up any extra breading ingredients.

cook_kid_schnitzel_fryI thoroughly pre-heated a cast-iron skillet on medium heat. I added enough oil for shallow frying, then immediately put my freshly breaded cutlet on the pan. I allowed each side to cook for about 3-4 minutes, until nicely browned, with only one turn. As I was fussing over the frying, Eric offered some good advice: “If at first you don’t succeed, fry, fry again.”

cook_kid_schnitzel_keep_warmI used the oven to keep the meat warm while I finished putting together a yummy greens dish.cook_kid_schnitzel_and_greens_finish

The breading held together remarkably well, though the cornmeal was a bit gritty. (I would have used bread crumbs if I had had some on hand.) The meat was tender and tasty. An astute observer of the above photos may have noticed two pieces of meat at the pounding stage and three at the cooking stage; that’s because one fell apart along a muscle boundary, a problem related to the choice of cut, but one that didn’t affect our enjoyment of the meal at all.

Schnitzel is a rare treat for us, but worth the work. It’s a dish few restaurants serve, especially those using sustainably sourced meat, so we’re happy to save some money and treat ourselves to this German delicacy.

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