Schnitzel is an Israeli staple. It is served so often in Israeli hotels and youth hostels that many tourists are convinced that there really isn’t any other entree in the Israeli diet. Now, the traditional Austrian dish is made with veal cutlets. While veal is part of the Israeli diet, Israelis tend to consume their veal on skewers of grilled meat. In fact most good skewer restaurants will offer not only chicken and turkey but also goose, veal and sometimes pork (called white steak so as not to use the word “pig”).
Now the common Israeli schnitzel is usually chicken and sometimes turkey (a very common source of meat in Israel- most of the schwarma is in fact turkey, flavored with lamb fat). If you go to an Israeli butcher on a Friday afternoon you can see them breaking down chickens and pounding the breast meat into a uniform thickness.
Now, you might ask yourself whether making schnitzel is worth all the work since you can go down to the grocery store and get some chicken tenders. To that I say, if you want to eat over-fried shoe leather that was made hours ago go ahead. But one taste of fresh schnitzel and you will be off the tenders for life.
My twist is that I oven fry it. I have a moderate fear of frying. Well its not so much a fear of frying but a fear of fry mess. Amiee and I share an aversion to mess. In fact we are both a bit nutty about keeping our kitchens “just so” and for me the idea of spattering oil all over the stove is a bit more than I can bear on a regular basis. Hence my oven fry scheme.
Directions after the jump
Oven Fried Schnitzel
2-4 fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 pieces of sandwich bread (I use whole wheat)
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin and smoked paprika
4 tb cooking oil
Pre heat oven to 450, placing a large rimmed baking sheet or sheet pan inside. Mix spices and flour, place in a large flat container. Scramble eggs with some water and place in a simlar dish. Finally take the bread slices and rip them up. Pulse slices in a food processor until small uniform crumbs form. Spread them on a plate or pie pan. Now line up your ingredients (see photo) and place a wire rack at the end. On a cutting board remove tenderloins from breasts, set aside. Place chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap, using a food mallet or rolling pin pound gently until they are uniform in thickness at about 1/2 inch. When all of the breasts are pounded start by pressing the chicken into the flour, then dip fully into the egg wash and finally lightly press into the bread crumbs. Place each piece on the wire rack. Remove sheet pan from oven and coat with oil. Return to oven and allow oil to heat for 3-4 min. Place chicken on sheet pan and bake for 10 min. Gently flip chicken over while trying not to tear the crust. Bake another 10 min or until cooked through to a temp of 160. Best served with lemons, veggies and rice pilaf (but that’s another story).