It’s no secret that I love to cook. Nor is it unusual for me to experiment with even the most basic dishes. Today, while grocery shopping, I decided I had a taste for schnitzel—the crispy, breaded, fried sort that my mom used to make every blue moon. She rarely prepared anything fried, so those occasions when it appeared on our dinner plates were particularly memorable for me. I needed to run to the store for a few things—cat litter, laundry soap, eggs, celery…and a small pork tenderloin, because I’d been thinking about it all morning. And I knew exactly what to use for the breading.
After putting the groceries away, I got to work. I cut the tenderloin in half, froze the half I wasn’t using, and set about slicing the meat into cutlets and pounding them until they were thin. I used a plastic bag and a leather mallet, excellent for releasing any aggression from dealing with the throngs of people at the grocery.
The other day, I noticed several boxes of various flavors and types of Triscuit crackers up on the shelf. I knew they had to be stale by now, but not wanting to toss them and waste food, I combined them in the food processor and pulverized them into crumbs. Rosemary and olive oil; brown rice, sweet potato and sea salt; roasted sweet onion; sea salt and black pepper; tomato and sweet basil…all combined to make the tastiest, most delicious crumbs I’ve ever tasted! Since they were already full of flavor, I didn’t have to add any further seasoning.
I beat two eggs, poured the crumbs into a bowl, added a liberal shake of garlic powder, and started dipping and coating the cutlets with crumbs. When I finished, I heated the iron skillet for a few minutes and then added peanut oil for frying. It needs to be very hot before putting the cutlets in. Two minutes on each side, and I had the crispiest, most flavorful schnitzel I’ve ever made! As I removed each batch from the pan, I checked to see that they were done inside, and laid them out on a platter covered with paper towels to absorb the grease.
While they were cooking, I put tiny new red potatoes in a covered glass dish in the microwave to cook for eight minutes. When done, I sliced them in half, seasoned them with Himalayan salt and black pepper, and put a tablespoon of real butter in the casserole dish. I added a sprinkle of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, covered them up, and with another 30 seconds in the microwave, they were finished.
For my veggies, I steamed pea pods, which were on sale today. Dinner was awesome. I still have half a jar of cracker crumbs left. The lesson here is to be creative. Use what you have and try not to throw things out. I wasn’t wild about all those flavors individually, but I figured if I combined them, they’d make dynamite crumbs for frying.
The only drawback to making these scrumptious morsels—any time you fry food, there’s grease. Cooking and eating is a lot more fun than cleaning up!