Monday, May 9, 2011

Pork schnitzel and arugula over butternut squash and potato mash

This is another favorite from Williams-Sonoma's "Food Made Fast" series. They're really great cookbooks, I can't recommend them enough.

The inspired combination of bright lemon, shallot, peppery arugula, creamy mashed potatoes and crunchy pan-fried pork is what makes this such a success, both in flavor and texture. You want to get a little of each component with every forkful.

The key to getting your breading to stick is first flouring the pork chops, then dipping it in egg, then into bread crumbs. I've tried to skip the flour but if you do, the breading comes right off when you cut into the pork. Still delicious, yes, but easily avoidable with a little dusting of flour.You could use any bread crumbs you like but I prefer Japanese panko bread crumbs because they're nice and large, so you get a really crunchy final result. I used to have to go to the Asian grocery to buy them but I found them in the my local megamart recently as well.

1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
an equal amount of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
pat of butter
splash of milk

2 boneless pork chops, pounded to about half an inch thin (the important thing is that they're of even thickness)
sprinkling of all-purpose flour
1 lemon, zested and juiced, separately
1 egg, beaten
~ 1 cup bread crumbs, preferably panko
1 small shallot, minced
few cups of arugula

Place your potato and squash cubes in a pot of cold water, salt liberally, cover, and turn on the heat. If you cut them into about one inch cubes, they'll only take about 20 minutes to cook through, at which point all you have to do is drain, return them to the pot, add butter, milk, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, mash to your desired texture, and cover.

While that's happening, it's pork time. Get out two wide shallow bowls. Beat the egg into the first and dump the panko into the second. I like to trim off the excess fat from the chops first, then slip them (one at a time) into a large Zip-loc bag. Moisten the outside of the bag with a little water, choose your weapon, and whack away your frustrations. Obviously you don't need to buy a meat mallet, a rolling pin or can of baked beans or whatever would work just fine. I had to buy one, but that's because I have a sickness. Season both sides of the pounded pork with the lemon zest, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, then coat lightly with flour, shaking off the excess. Dip the chop into the egg next, coating both sides completely, and finally into the panko, pressing it onto both sides. Set aside and repeat with the second chop.

Heat a healthy glug of olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. You want to cover the bottom completely, but it doesn't need to be very deep. You can (and should) add more olive oil if your chops soak it all up. When shimmery and hot but not smoking, add your pork chops and let fry until you can see they're cooked just over halfway up the sides and the crumb crust has become lovely deep golden brown, about five minutes. Then flip, and it shouldn't take more than three or four minutes to finish on the other side. Remove to your serving plates atop your squash and potato mash. Now, you only want about a tablespoon of oil to be left in the pan, so pour out any excess. Add the shallot and saute until softened, two or three minutes. Turn off the heat and squeeze in the juice of the lemon you zested, then add your arugula and toss through with tongs so all the lemon juice and olive oil and shallot is distributed evenly and the arugula is just lightly wilted. Serve atop your pork schnitzel.

Serves 2, takes half an hour.

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