I have always loved the wiener schnitzel served in good German restaurants. The buttery taste of the thin, pounded breaded veal is delightful, as is the hot German potato salad, or spatzle (German noodles), and the sweet and tart braised red cabbage, and sometimes cinnamon seasoned warm applesauce.
Marie used to make stacked platters of wiener schnitzel for our kids, along with lots of buttered noodles and home made applesauce. They absolutely loved it and devoured it in quantity. In fact, Marie and I enjoyed lots of it at a great German restaurant named Max’s® in Pittsburgh PA very close to the Allegheny General Hospital where my mother was undergoing a triple bypass operation for clogged arteries. Go figure.
Various folks I know will not eat veal for personal reasons, and yet others will not eat breaded meats fried in butter for health reasons. Ah well, to each his own …
Veal is fairly expensive when purchased as scaloppini slices, raw, which is the best form of veal to use for making wiener schnitzel. In 2010 the price, even in Costco®, was around $10 per pound.
I decided some years ago to try to duplicate wiener schnitzel, with pork. Let me tell you the taste and texture are so good using lean pork that I have trouble telling the difference. In fact, the pork is more tender than the veal. Most of all, it only costs about $3 per pound, purchased as a boneless pork loin roast.
Thus, Poor Man’s Schnitzel was born in my kitchen, and I have had little interest in veal ever since. Now you too can clog your arteries as I have mine, with a smile and a great sense of satisfaction from eating excellent food inexpensively.
2 lbs. of boneless pork loin
½ to 1 lb. of butter (or more based on how many skillets full of breaded pork you fry)
2 to 3 cups of cracker crumbs
1 tsp. of ground black pepper
1 tsp. of Sea salt (fine)
1 extra large or jumbo egg
2 oz. of water
Make whatever side dishes you plan to make for this meal before cooking the pork. Buttered noodles or hot German potato salad are naturals, as are hot applesauce and/or sweet and tart braised red cabbage. There is a recipe for the braised cabbage in Food Nirvana and also the hot German potato salad. Keep the hot side dishes covered in plastic wrap in a warm oven. See below.
Turn on your oven to 200ºF and put a large dinner plate or small meat platter into it that will be used to hold the cooked pork. Put your prepared side dishes, covered, into the oven.
Remove any layer of fat on the pork loin and discard it. Slice the pork loin crossways into slices about 3/8 inch thick.
Use a kitchen mallet with a metal knurled or indented wood surface used to pound meat. Pound each slice of pork on a hard surface like the kitchen counter until it is between 1/8 and ¼ inches thick. Pound gently from one side to the other and over the entire first surface to do about half of the reduction in thickness. Then turn the slice over and repeat the process on the second side until the right thickness is obtained.
Repeat the above pounding process for all the pork slices, placing and then stacking the individual thinned pieces of pork onto a large dinner plate.
Use a one gallon Ziploc® freezer bag to hold enough Keebler Club® Crackers to make three cups of finely ground cracker crumbs. Close the bag leaving as little air inside as possible. Crush the crackers using the heel of your hand and then open the bag and eliminate as much air as you can and then reseal the bag.
Use your rolling pin to finish the process of crushing the crackers into very fine cracker crumbs. Add the salt and the pepper to the bag and mix well by shaking it.
Make an egg wash. Break the raw egg into a wide shallow bowl and whisk it for about 30 seconds. Add the water and again whisk for 30 seconds.
Pour half of the cracker crumb mixture onto a large dinner plate, to a depth of about ½ inch. Spread it evenly.
Dip a slice of pounded pork into the egg wash, coating both sides. Let the excess egg wash run off back into the egg wash bowl.
Lay the pork slice on top of the cracker crumb mixture, then put a generous coating of the cracker crumbs on top of the pork slice, then press down with your hand to cause cracker crumbs to adhere to the pork slice on both sides.
Remove the pork slice, holding it above and shaking it gently to get excess cracker crumbs to fall back onto the cracker crumb plate.
Put the breaded pork slice onto a separate large plate.
Spread the cracker crumbs that are on the plate evenly and repeat the above process starting with dipping a pork slice into the egg wash, until all the pork slices have been breaded and placed on top of each other on a plate. Add cracker crumb mixture as necessary to keep a generous layer of cracker crumbs on the plate used to bread the pork slices.
Use a large non-stick skillet and heat it on medium heat with ½ stick of butter.
When the butter has melted and is starting to bubble, place as many pieces of the breaded pork into the skillet as you can, only one deep, but do not let the slices touch each other. After two minutes turn the slices over with a wide spatula. Remove the warming plate/platter from the oven. Cook the pork for two minutes on the second side and remove the finished pork/schnitzel pieces to the warmed plate or small meat platter, and then return the plate/platter to the warming oven.
Clean the skillet quickly with hot water to remove crumb residue, and wipe it dry with a paper towel. Return it to the stove. Add ½ stick of butter and repeat the above cooking process until all of the slices of raw breaded pork have been cooked and placed on the warming plate/platter.
Discard any unused egg wash or cracker crumb mixture. Do not reuse them.
Serve the schnitzel and the side dishes you prepared earlier.
Your guests will be very happy.