well, you’ve heard it here first, there is no problem too big that it can’t be solved by throwing a little more bacon at it. lets face it, there are a few ingredients that make just about anything better. chief amongst these in my lexicon are cheese, chocolate and lovely lovely bacon.
This week’s meal was an ode to pork. no doubt about it. i’m reminded of an episode of the simpsons where they go out to a chinese restaurant and Lisa is faced with menu problems because everything is served with pork. i’ll admit, i’m ok with that.
I decided to go for a german theme this week. centered around the idea of the jaegerschnitzel, i quickly moved forward to spaetzle and oddly enough boiled cabbage. i know its not traditional, more likely you would find a sauerkraut of some sort but it just sounded really tasty so, like many things in life, i just went with it.
due to spacing limitation on my stove and the fact that i only have one large pot in this godforsaken country, i opted for the crock pot as my prep method for the cabbage. learning my lesson from the greek beef a few weeks back, i built in a bit of extra time to allow the dish to fully develop before dinnertime. this means starting the cabbage around five hours before you plan on eating. the preparation is deathly simple, slice a whole head of red cabbage, 1 large onion, 6 cloves of garlic, 4 strips of bacon and a pound of smoked sausage into your crock pot. pour over a can of beef broth, liberally salt and pepper and turn the crock pot on high for the aforementioned five hours, mixing often to ensure both even cooking and a nice even blend of ingredients. you want the cabbage to start getting soft but to still have a nice bite to it. soggy cabbage is decidedly not the aim of this dish.
the jaegerschnitzel is pretty straightforward as well. often in my cookery, i make the mistake of following a recipe too closely although my instincts tell me that my particular tastes would be better served with a bit of deviation from the norm. this was certainly the case with this dish. the main body of the recipe is a wolfgang puck recipe with deviations to my taste. however, the original recipe calls for 2 cups of red wine in the sauce, which i went with and it turned out amazing but i would have preferred a bit less wine. i will probably change the wine/stock ratio if i make it again.
i’m always a bit uncomfortable when i talk about the origins of the recipes that i am cooking. it should be obvious that i am not authoring them all myself. i am modifying along the way but the body lines are definitely rooted in a recipe found either on the net or in one of my cookbooks. on the one hand, i feel i owe it to the people i am borrowing from to mention the provenance of the recipes but the flipside to that is that i worry that by quoting the recipe and mentioning the origin in the same post that i may be violating the intellectual rights of the original author. with that, i add my standard disclaimer, if i am in any way in violation of any originators rights or if i just offend their delicate sensibilities, please let me know and i will sanitize the material to remove anything that may be protected material.
ok, with the schnitzel, i believe that pork is your meat of choice. there are arguments for beef, veal, lamb or even turkey (i love you sweetheart but, no, it’s just not right!) but for me, pork will always be the first option. it doesn’t hurt that its relatively inexpensive either. i started with four boneless pork loin chops and pounded them flat with my meat mallet. season with salt and pepper, dredge in a bit of seasoned flour. brown the pork in a bit of olive oil until nice and colored on both sides. move these to a casserole dish. i fried mine off in batches due to the size of my pan, be sure not to overcrowd, it slows down the cooking.
in the same pan, sweat down 1 chopped onion, one thinly sliced carrot and one thinly sliced piece of celery. once these are nicely cooked, transfer them to another pan and deglaze the first pan with 2 cups of red wine (again, in retrospect i would have used just one cup to de-emphasize the wine flavor. add three bay leaves to the wine and cook down until reduced by half. remove the bay leaves and pour the wine over the vegetables in the other pot. add to this a can of beef stock and heat of medium high heat. add 6 large sliced mushrooms and a bit of thyme and parsley. i wasn’t happy with the consistency of the sauce, i prefer a thicker gravy-like sauce so i also thickened it with a tbsp of flour but be cautious of that, if you don’t get it blended in well you will end up with lumps. once the sauce thickens, pour over the pork in the casserole and run it into a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
the spaetzle was one of the most intimidating dishes i have done in a long time. it’s deceptively simple but its a dish that i really enjoy so i didn’t want to do it poorly. i have to say, i was not properly equipped to make it. in order to form the dough properly, you need to have a spaetzle maker or a potato ricer. i had neither and tried to use a slotted spoon to press the dough into shape but this worked poorly. so, i ended up with a very rustic solution, i dropped small pieces of dough off the back of a fork in strings to form the pieces. it worked rather well and honestly, i will probably just do this in the future.
my stove takes forever to heat up a large pot of water but that is the starting point for the spaetzle. you need a large pot of salted water at a boil. while your water is heating, mix together 1 cup of flour, 2 beaten eggs and 1/4 cup of milk. add to this a couple twists of salt and pepper and a quick dash or two of nutmeg. mix well and let sit for about 15 minutes. when you have your water up to temperature, drop small pieces of the dough into the boiling water and cook 3 – 4 minutes. they should float up to the top when they are ready. work in batches, not overcrowding and drain the pieces into a bowl. when you are done with all of the dough, melt a large knob of butter in a skillet adding three or four chopped pieces of bacon. once the bacon starts to cook, add in your spaetzle, stirring to coat the pieces on all sides. cook for a brief moment or two until the spaetzle starts to get golden and then serve alongside the schnitzel and cabbage. share and enjoy.
overall, this was a really nice meal. eddie added a bit of roasted eggplant hummus and a bottle of pinot noir so everything was as it should be. unfortunately, we ate all the spaetzle during the meal so i have none to go with the leftover schnitzel and cabbage.
i’ve been planning the next 29 meals, i am really excited about some of the upcoming feasts. i don’t want to give too much away but i think people will be pleasantly surprised and inspired.