Cook yourself German #2 – „Schnitzel mit Kartoffel-Gurken-Salat“ = schnitzel with potato-cucumber salad

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When you ask people about traditional German dishes, they will most likely respond „Sausage“ and „Schnitzel“. I wrote a bit about sausage in the last article – no one in their right mind will make them at home. But the other favourite dish of most Germans is really easy to make at home. And is best combined with another absolut classic – potato salad.

Schnitzel

Originally, schnitzel is an Austrian dish. But still an absolute German classic. The Austrian schnitzel is normally made of veal, very very thin and so big that it goes over the edges of the plate. The German version is often made with pork and thicker – which makes it also jucier.

Use back of pork, with all fat removed. Cut a duoble thick slice, and butterfly-cut lengthwiseso you get a double slize. Then put some oil and some plastic foil on top and beat with a meat mallet or a small pot to a 1 – 1,5 cm thick steak. Salt and pepper. Turn in a) flower b) beaten egg c) breadcrumbs and quickly fry in 3 cm deep clarified butter until golden brown. Put on a plate with kitchen paper to remove access fat. Salt on the outside and serve immedately.

Schnitzel rules

  • Pork is most common. But you can also use veal or even chicken or turkey.
  • The meat should be equally thick so it fries evenly.
  • The best stuff to fry it in is clarified butter. Some experts like pork fat. Neutal oil fine, too. No olive oil or butter.
  • The schnitzel must slightly swim in the fat.
  • Fat has to be hot enough so the schnitzel fries quickly and doesn’t soak up too much.
  • Don’t press the breadcrumbs to the schnitzel, the surface should be fluffy and wavy after frying.

Potato salad

For most Germans, this is a childhood taste. There are endless varieties and every family has their own version which they sware by. But there are two general philosophies which divide the country throug the „majonaise equator“ which runs sightly above Nürnberg. South of it, most people will favour potato salad with oil, vinegar and beef or vegetable stock. Above people will favour the version with majo. I like both but as a side dish to fried food, i prefer the slightly lighter oil and vinegar version.

Boil primarily waxy potatoes with the peel on so that they are cooked but not too soft. Let cool just so you can touch and peel them. Then cut the peeled and still warm potatoes in thin slices and put them in a big bowl. Don’t worry if the fall apart. Add so much hot (!) stock (beef stock is best, veggie ok, too) and shake the salad around in the bowl so the salad becomes moist and almost creamy. The starch from the potatoes should emulsify with the stock. Then add some white wine vinegar, pepper, salt and a bit of hot mustard. Shake and mix again. In the end, add some neutral vegetable oil and shake once more. In my case, i’ve added some finely sliced cucumber, which i salted before and left in a sieve to draw out extra liquid.

Potato salad rules

  • Stock and potatoes must be warm in order to emulsify.
  • Don’t overdo the stock, start with a bit, then maybe add some more.
  • The salad should always be served at room temperature or even slightly warmer. Cold potato salad is a nightmare.
  • There are endless variations – you can add other raw or cooked vegetables, salads, bacon, eggs, pickles, sliced apples and other fruit, herbs, spices… Experiment but don’t overload.
  • When putting in raw, finely sliced or chopped onions or chives, which may be nice, do this only shorly before serving. This salad is not for storing longer, it’ll be horrible.
  • If you want to keep salad with onions longer, poach them in water first.
  • No olive oil. Total nightmare.

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