Last Friday, I took it upon myself to try to reproduce completely one of my fiancé’s favorite restaurant meals: pork schnitzel, roasted potatoes and German cucumber salad. Thinking leftovers, I bought 6 pork cutlets. The meal itself was a success, but when the time came to revisit the leftovers, I was inspired by this week’s pork sandwich theme to think outside of the box –- rather than simply reheat all three elements and serve a replica of the original meal, I decided to go rogue with a port cutlet sandwich.
After pondering various textures and flavors, I decided to try combining the garlicky punch of aioli with the sweetness of fresh basil to complement the meaty crunch of the pork and keep the sandwich from being dry. I gently reheated the cutlets in the oven to crisp them up again, slathered some sandwich rolls (nothing fancy, as I wanted something springy and soft to counterbalance the texture of the cutlets) with the aioli and laid the pork on top. I wanted some greens, so I added some baby arugula, and then for a bit of heat and acid, I sliced up some peppadew peppers and scattered them over the arugula. Voila! A sandwich was born. And from my fiancé’s empty plate, I was able to assume at least some level of success with this one.
Pork Cutlet Sandwiches with Basil Aioli
For the basil aioli:
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 large basil leaves, finely chopped
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Whisking all the while, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the egg yolk until the mixture thickens and emulsifies. Make sure not to rush this! Stir in the basil, taste and add more salt if necessary, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the sandwiches:
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup dry breadcrumbs, preferably panko
- Salt and pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 4 to 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 pork cutlets (about 1 pound)
- 4 sandwich rolls
- 1/4 cup basil aioli
- 1 1/2 cups baby arugula, washed and dried
- 1/4 cup peppadew peppers, thinly sliced
1. Put the flour and breadcrumbs (separately) in two wide, shallow dishes and season each generously with salt and pepper. Crack the eggs into a similar dish and beat them lightly with a fork.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and a tablespoon of butter in a wide heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, season both sides of the pork cutlets with salt and pepper and dredge them -- first in the flour, shaking off any excess, then in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs, making sure they are evenly coated. When the butter starts to brown, gently add two cutlets to the pan and cook, turning halfway through and adjusting the heat if necessary, until golden brown and cooked through, about a minute and a half per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining cutlets, adding more oil and butter to the pan if necessary. Set aside and keep warm.
3. Cut the sandwich rolls in half and spread them generously with aioli. Top the bottom half of each sandwich with a pork cutlet, followed by a fistful of arugula and a tablespoon or so of sliced peppadew peppers. Close up the sandwiches and eat while the pork is still warm!