I’m on the road this week for a family wedding — before you start getting all up in arms over fall weddings, remember, we leave that sort of nonsense whining and hysterics to college football fans — which means I don’t have to cook for football for a change. Sort of nerve racking, to be honest. What if I cannot find the right chips? Why do all these bags say “Utz” on them? Is someone going to season the hamburgers before they go on the grill? Will someone give me their wireless password so I can check on my fantasy team with my laptop since we all know the mobile apps for fantasy are the worst?
And the most surprising and yet shouldn’t have been surprising event, “What the hell, this hotel doesn’t get the NFL Network? But I want to see both Brady AND Rex Ryan meltdown at the same time!” Sadly, I’ve had to live the game through watching reruns of “Mike & Mike” all morning on ESPN2. Greenberg’s Belichick could use some work and my brain, in an amazing evolutionary leap of self-defense, filters out every sound that leaves Golic’s mouth so it sounds like the Peanut’s “grown-up” voice in my head.
Typically I would be excited this wedding (luckily) gets me back to LA in time for the Steelers-Bengals game Monday night, but oof. Unless someone sets Boss Todd’s Fiero on fire in the parking lot, there is not going to be a lot to like in that particular matchup.
Chicken Schnitzel Sandwiches
We don’t give the German’s enough credit when it comes to food creation. Take the schnitzel. It’s hearty, is a perfect counterbalance to drinking large amounts of beer, is easy to make and takes the less-desirable pieces of meat and makes them appetizing. Stadiums should sandwich beer stands between sausage and schnitzel stands, fans at home should be making them at home instead of their usual burgers. Juicy chicken drawing in the flavor of both the butter and the olive oil, a little extra crunch from crispier panko bread crumbs, just the right amount of tart from the lemon and the dressing.
(Cheering “Ziggy, zaggy, ziggy, zaggy! Oi! O! Oi!” however is best left to the Germans.)
This recipe also works for veal, another traditional schnitzel variant. Since veal gets pretty pricy when feeding a crowd and some people have ethical reasons for not eating veal, chicken works just fine for football.
You will need:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 scallion, minced
1-2 tablespoon chopped cornishons (3-4)
1 tablespoon capers, drained then chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt & and cracked pepper to taste (approximately 1/2 teaspoon of each)
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken; trimmed of excess fat (A mix of white and dark meat works well.)
Flour for breading the chicken (about 1 cup)
Kosher salt & pepper
3-4 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
2-3 eggs, beaten
Unsalted butter and olive oil for frying, about 1/2 cup each
Chopped flat-leaf parsley
Thinly sliced tomato, about 2-3 tomatoes worth
Boston lettuce, about 1/2 a head
2 dozen dinner rolls
Lemon slices, about 2-3 lemons worth
Special kitchen items needed:
Meat tenderizer with a flat side or a rolling pin. If neither is available, the heaviest wooden spoon you have, but be prepared to use a little more arm and shoulder strength.
Mix everything together for the sandwich dressing in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before using, up to a day beforehand. (This is a good sandwich spread to have around just in general. If you ever want to make it spicy, add a generous pinch of ground cayenne pepper.)
After you’ve trimmed the chicken of any excess fat, place the individual pieces between sheets of plastic wrap. Take your meat tenderizer or a rolling pin and pound the ever living shit out of the chicken until it’s between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch thick. Mad at work? Mad at your spouse? Mad that your fantasy team lost about 1.3 points last weekend? Mad that you had the poor fortune to be born in Philadelphia and a lifetime of Eagles frustration? Pound away to your heart’s desire as you flattening out the meat.
Repeat until all the pieces have been flattened and/or you finally feel better about being a Chargers fan. (Feel free to have a shot of tequila in there to help with the pain.) Cut each piece of now-thinner-but-much-wider pieces of chicken in half or even thirds to fit on your rolls.
Place a cookie sheet in a 250º with either a rack or a few paper towels oven so you can keep cooked pieces warm as you work through the batch and drain off extra oil.
Set up your breading station. In the first bowl or large plate, mix together flour, kosher salt and cracked pepper. In the next bowl, the beaten eggs; starting with two eggs and adding a third if you need it. In the final bowl, mix together the grated parmigiano reggiano and panko bread crumbs.
In a large cast iron skillet or frying pan, heat equal parts unsalted butter and olive oil for frying over medium-high heat, about 2 tablespoons of each to start.
Working a several pieces at a time, dredge the chicken through the flour until coated, then the beaten eggs, then the panko and cheese mixture and then into the heated oil.
Cook for three to four minutes on each side until golden brown and then pop in the oven to keep warm until you finish with all of the schnitzel pieces or until serving. As always, do not overload your frying pan as ruin the temperature of both the oil and the pan. Add more butter and oil to the pan as necessary. You’re not deep frying the schnitzel, but you do need to make sure it’s getting enough heat from the oil to be golden and not blackened from the pan.
Once you have finished cooking the schnitzel, build your sandwiches. A little bit of Boston lettuce on the bottom [insert Patriots receivers joke here] bun, a couple of thin slices of tomato, the chicken schnitzel, a sprinkle of chopped parsley and the top of the bun with a small amount of the sandwich dressing. Serve with a lemon wedge to squirt over the meat by the person just about to eat it, the lemon working best when it is added at the last possible second as not to make the sandwich soggy [add another Patriots receivers joke here].