Schnitzel is a traditional German meal of a meat that is first breaded, and then pan fried. While most of the true German Schnitzels are made from either pork or veal, the recipe is an outstanding way to prepare wild turkey breast.
There are a few secrets to making the perfect schnitzel. Make sure your turkey is pounded into flat cutlets about ¼-inch thick, any thicker and the crust will be too brown before the interior meat is cooked through. I like to slice my turkey against the grain of the breast meat into ½- to ¾-inch-thick cutlets, then pound them flat with a meat mallet. Place the cutlets inside a gallon-sized zip top bag to keep the mess to a minimum as you pound the meat flat.
The second tip for a perfect schnitzel is the three-part breading method. The first dip is a seasoned flour, either purchased or made by mixing a tablespoon each of salt and pepper and a teaspoon of powdered garlic into a cup of all-purpose flour. After dredging both sides of the turkey cutlet in the flour, the second dip is into a beaten egg mixture. The third and final dip is into plain bread crumbs. I like to set my dipped cutlets onto a wire rack for a few minutes to allow the crust to set before I fry.
Finally, make sure your cooking oil is hot before dropping the breaded cutlet in. I look for 330 to 350 degrees before adding the meat to the pan. Don’t have a thermometer handy? Drop a couple of popcorn kernels into the pan. When they pop, the oil is ready.
Cooking mediums vary by recipe. While plain vegetable oil will work, vegetable shortening seems, to me at least, to yield a crisper crust. But far and away my favorite cooking medium for frying meat is lard (I also use it for biscuits and pie crust). Lard has a high smoke point, has less saturated fat than butter, and turns out a super crisp and golden brown crust that is second to none on fried meat.
The traditional serving method for schnitzel is to pair it with spaetzle, a German dumpling style egg noodle that is pan fried in butter with onion or shallot. Plate the spaetzle, family style. on a platter, then top with the fried schnitzel and garnish with lemon slices and parsley. I sometimes shred a bit of cheese over the noodles, gruyere is a favorite.
One side of a turkey breast from a mature gobbler
or both sides from a jake
1 cup seasoned flour
2 eggs beaten
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
Cooked spaetzle noodles tossed in butter with sautéed diced onion or shallot
Cut breast into slices, roughly ½- to ¾-inch thick, against the grain of the meat.
Pound slices flat with a meat mallet, to a consistent ¼ thickness.
Dredge each cutlet, first in seasoned flour, then in egg wash and finally in bread crumbs. Place on wire rack for a few minutes to allow crust to set.
Fry each cutlet, 3 to 4 minutes per side, in hot oil or grease.
Remove the cutlets directly from the hot grease onto a paper towel lined platter while you fry the remainder. Sprinkle with salt while the cutlets are still hot from the pan.
Serve with spaetzle noodles and garnish with lemon slices for a traditional presentation.
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