Hillbilly Veal? Redneckschnitzel?
We’ve established that Sous Vide is well applied as an intermediate stage in food prep. Now, we can utilize the process to make familiar dishes easier, more palatable, AND safer. Pork has always been a good value, but outdated preconceived notions about its safety linger in our minds. The toxic culprit most frequently associated with pork is Trichinosis. Trichina are not bacterial, like salmonella and the other familiar pathogens.
Trichina, or trichinella, are parasites. Even though swine are susceptible to trichinosis (beef and poultry are not), there has not been a documented case of trichinosis associated with commercial pork in over 70 years.
Modern sanitation practices have contributed to increased safety, but the fact is trichinosis was really never that common in pork, especially if the pigs were raised in temperate weather conditions. The parasites are much more likely to occur in wild game — bear meat has been associated with the infection in recent years. Trichinella are also extremely vulnerable to temperature, and die off during cooking sooner than the other more familiar pathogens like e.coli and shigella, etc. Even so, my understanding is that the symptoms are extremely unpleasant.
Please don’t call it “the other white meat.”
Unlike beef, pork has very little myoglobin in its muscle. Even when it’s raw, it’s not particularly red. Advertising campaigns suggest that it should be white, but, actually, the best pork is more grayish and not very appealing in appearance because of that. Many of the variations of the hue and texture of the meat are associated with the particular breed, and I have read that when pigs are extensively cross-bred beyond recognition, their meat tends to be very pale.
What they eat has a lot to do with it, too. But most of us are limited to buying what the market offers, even though there is a growing number of sources for specific breeds. Needless to say, anybody can say that their pigs are Mangalistas or Berkshires with little risk of being found out, as long as they have a couple examples of those breeds penned up in the front yard. The jist of it is Sous Vide can make ANY pork better than it was when prepared by traditional methods.
Why go to Austria, when you can bring it here?
The earliest formal incarnations of thin pounded slices of meat being breaded and fried used veal, and were referred to as Wienerschnitzel (no, it’s NOT a hot dog). Literally, this translates to “Viennese Cutlet.” I hear they invented a very nice dance there, too, called the Waltz. Austria is a very tiny country, but it has a rich cultural history. Back in the days when Monarchs were purposely inbred and trained to act “Royal,” Austria was used as the breeding ground, as it were. Nothing to do directly with pork, it just came to mind. I had an Austrian Chef mentor, he was quite the aristocrat.
Anyway, veal never really caught on in America. It just doesn’t fit our animal husbandry model, and Americans seem to think that it’s cruel, the poor little calf. Lambs are cute, too, as are chickens, in their own way, but baby seal will never catch on here, it’s as simple as that. Pigs have a certain charm as well, but Americans seemingly have no moral objection to the slaughter of piglets. That’s how much we love bacon. If bacon came from whales, Greenpeace would cease to exist. Anyway, veal is still popular in Europe, but we’re not IN Europe. We’re here.
So, we make pork cutlets. Breaded chicken cutlets are popular too, and have been used for a long time in classic dishes like alla Parmigiana (tomato sauce and melted mozzarella). For some reason, nobody makes pork cutlets alla Parmigiana, and, honestly, it doesn’t sound good to me either. Fresh pork is most popular prepared in more plebeian stylings. So, that’s what we’re going to do.
Basic porcine anatomy. That means pigs. Swine. Cloven Hooves. All that.
- The whole boneless loin (not to be confused with the tenderloin) is one of the best values in the butcher’s case. It’s usually cheaper than fresh pork belly, exactly the opposite of beef. You never even SEE beef belly (beef navel), it pretty much goes right into the grinder.
- The pork loin is the anatomical equivalent of the beef rib eye and New York steaks.
- The pork tenderloin is the equivalent of the beef filet.
- The loin is the leanest pork cut, but bacon and ham are so much more popular, market forces and the law of supply and demand work in our favor for once.
- For processing this time, I cut 7 oz. steaks from the loin.
- I reserved some to cure, we’ll have Lonzino in a few months.
- I processed the chops, two per Ziploc Quart Bag, @129Fx4 hours. I usually process a little higher, but I wanted the meat to retain some raw texture, which it did.
- It will pasteurize at 129F, and there’s no bone to impede the transfer of heat.
- Again, you can see what meat without myoglobin looks like. Reminds me of Johnny Winter, bless his tortured soul, may he rest in peace.
If I had a hammer…
- After shocking, I cut the steaks in half…
- And then, sliced again in half the other way, to make a little thinner.
- For making cutlets, you can cut them this way BEFORE you process, but I like the freedom of deciding how I want to serve them on a case by case basis.
- There’s a number of mallets suitable for this, not to worry–all those teeth marks disappear under the breading.
- The thinner the better, all the while maintaining structural integrity.
- Dust with flour.
- The whole flour/egg/breadcrumb process was always referred to as “alla Anglaise,” which is French for “English Style.” I know, I can’t make sense out of it either.
- Never skimp on the eggs, and you can save them safely in the fridge for other purposes — pancakes, other baked items. I hate wasting stuff.
- I keep looking for a way to avoid all the mess of breading. I haven’t really found it yet, as my wife can verify.
- The LARGER the pan that you use for the bread crumbs, the less debris will wind up in the surrounding vicinity. This is also true of the egg step.
- This time, I just poured the crumbs out on the little cutting board, and then the whole board went in the sink after being dusted off. I wasn’t drunk, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.
- The only way things can REALLY go wrong is if you try to complete the crumb step in a container or on a surface that is too SMALL. Or if you’re REALLY drunk.
It’s a crumby job, but, yada yada, you know the rest…
- Never skimp on the crumbs, either.
- The original “authentic” Wienerschnitzelen are pounded extremely thin, and are deep fried super crisp.
- The pan fried version is a little more practical, but make sure your pan is at least 350F, and that you have at least half an inch of oil in there, also 350F.
- This actually PREVENTS the cutlet from becoming greasy, because the entire surface is heated to a point where the oil is boiling out rather than soaking in.
- Arrange the cutlets without crowding. Don’t move them around or fuss with them, or they won’t get brown.
- Take a sip of your favorite beverage, or wash your hands AGAIN. The cutlets aren’t the only things that get breaded.
- After a minute or two, you will start to see a little curling, and moistening of the top.
- You can actually see how brown they are getting without lifting them.
- If you get your heat right, when you flip the first batch, you can carefully add a couple more.
- The bottom side never comes out as good as the top one (unless you deep fry), because moisture collects as the cutlet gets hot.
- Don’t flip again. The top is the top.
Don’t boil the cornbread
Cornbread is one of those things, basically one cup of just about everything, with a couple of half cups and a Tablespoon. Here’s my version.
- 1 cup corn meal. I use yellow polenta and grind it finer in the blender. White grits work too, you just don’t get the color.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk or buttermilk. Buttermilk is not butter, and it’s not milk, either. It’s a by-product of the fabrication of butter, no big deal, mostly water, but people like to hear it in menu descriptions. Buttermilk pancakes, Buttermilk biscuits, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, this and that.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup oil. Save the butter for later
- 1/2 cup eggs. That means 2 eggs. A large egg is 2 oz.
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder, or half that amount of Baking Soda.
- Salt. Put some in there.
- Mix it all together, pour it into a greased pie pan or whatever, and bake at 350F until you can smell the love, or the toothpick comes out clean, or the thermometer says 165F.
- Let it cool off before you try to cut it. If you don’t have any honey, just throw the cornbread out now.
Okay, let’s make some natural, rich brown gravy. I used to have a waiter named Rich Brown, he used to tell guests the sauce was named after him. Anyway, it’s natural. It’s not from Mars or Jupiter or outer space. Actually, even that stuff is natural. The entire universe is natural, isn’t it?
- Pour the remaining oil out of the pan you fried the cutlets in. Breaded cutlets don’t really leave any drippings behind, but why get another pan dirty?
- Wipe it out with a paper towel, and put it back on the stove.
- Put 2 Tablespoons (1 oz) of oil in the pan, and
- Add 2 Tablespoons of flour to it. No need to use the gram scale, you just want to make sure the flour has enough oil to dissolve in.
- It should look like this, and it’s okay to get it a LITTLE brown, but not much. This is not really what contributes the color to a sauce, even though people seem to think that it is. Don’t stick your finger in the roux, by the way, that stuff is Al Green Hot and Sticky.
- Stir in 2 cups chicken stock, and it will boil pretty much right away.
- I added 2 cups stock, but if I didn’t have it, I would just use water. Little bit of Knorr Beef Stock liquid, tiny bit of Maggi beef powder, or demi glace if you got it.
- Let it simmer and reduce until it gets thick.
- Strain it if you like, but, with practice, lumps occur less and less.
- Do not whip it. That’s not the thing. That can actually break it.
- Don’t think for a minute that restaurants don’t fortify their sauces with concentrates. Like the Joker in the movie says, little bit of Red Boat Fish Sauce, people think your hip, let them see the Kitchen Bouquet in your pantry, everybody goes CRAAAAA-ZY.
- I paraphrase.
- Dissolve a pat of butter at the end. Butter is the thing.
- Just like tobacco is a delivery system for nicotine, sauces are a delivery system for salt and butter.
I like rice
I will eat any kind of rice, but I got kind of tired of the Uncle Ben’s and Jasmine, long grain types. These days I usually use Hinode Calrose, only a tiny bit trickier than the others. I’ve been trying to configure SV to make rice, but haven’t succeeded. Risotto works Sous Vide, but none of the others do so far, because of the differing proportions of two different starches. I think I discuss it in the linked article.
I’m not going to post a recipe or method for rice, I suggest you follow the directions on the packaging.
- Typically, 2/1, yada yada, keep it covered.
- I worked for a really great Italian chef, really great, who cooked rice like pasta as if that was the only sane way to do it.
- And, his rice was good. It’s rice.
It’s October, and the Witch flies at dinner time.