Not long ago, restaurants were just fun places to eat out -- not the foodist temples of today. And they were often an ode to the owner's homeland, hobby, or previous livelihood: a ski or fishing lodge, a Bahamian beach hut, a Chinese pagoda. At the top of our list is the stube, the Austrian ski shack with crossed skis hung over the mantel, beer steins, pretzel buns as bread, schnapps, and cabinet. The menus here would invariably feature sides of mustard in glass jars, parleyed potatoes, krauts and wursts of all kinds, and ultimately, the schnitzel -- crisp and hot and overlapping the plate like Dom DeLuise on a bar stool.
We include schnitzel on the Joe Beef menu twice a year: in the spring with peas, cream, and morels, and in the fall with chanterelles, eggs, and anchovies (of course). Ask your butcher for 4 large pounded schnitzels. Sizewise, default to your biggest pan. You can top the schnitzel with Oeufs en Pot, or with a plain fried egg with a lemon wedge alongside. —Joe Beef
(385 g) all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
(250 ml) sour cream
freshly grated nutmeg
(170 g) panko (Japanese bread crumbs), pulsed until the texture of regular bread crumbs
(115 g) grated sbinz or grana padano cheese
large pork schnitzels (loin cutlets), pounded by the butcher to 1/4 inch (6mm) thickk
Prepare 3 flat containers, each big enough to contain 1 schnitzel at a time. Put the flour and a good pinch each of salt and pepper in the first container. In the second container, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, nutmeg, and another good pinch each of salt and pepper. In the third container, mix together the processed panko and the cheese.
Dip a schnitzel in the flour and shake off the excess; drop it in the egg mixture and drain off the excess; and lay it in the third container with the panko mixture and coat it well. Shake off the excess crumbs and put it on a platter. Repeat with the remaining schnitzels, then put the platter, uncovered, in the fridge, and leave it to dry a little.
Heat the oil in a big frying pan over medium-high heat. Do not wait until the oil smokes, but it should be hot enough so that a pinch of crumbs sizzles on contact. Place 1 schnitzel in the pan. Remember to lay it down away from you, so you don’t splash yourself. Cook, turning once, for 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. You want to maintain a steady sizzle the whole time the schnitzel cooks, but you don’t want it to overcolor. Transfer to paper towels to absorb the excess oil, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining schnitzels, adding more oil to the pan if needed.
Serve the schnitzels one at a time as they are ready, or leave them on the paper towels and place in a low oven until serving.