My favorite German meal is Jagerschnitzel with Spaetzle and German Red Cabbage Kraut. As I am sure I have mentioned before (my friends would say ad nauseum) I spent a good chunk of my childhood in Europe. Most of that was in three different cities in German. I loved it there (It never could replace my good ole’ USA though). I enjoyed the landscape, the history, the people, the beer and the food. When ever we went to a new German “Gasthaus” or restaurant I would ALWAYS order the Jagerschnitzel. It was sort of my little test to compare it against other places I had eaten. Needless to say I ate Jagerschnitzel a lot. Incidentally the best I can remember was the Gasthaus at the Pfungstädter brewery near Darmstadt, awesome.
Jagersnitzel translates to hunters snitzel I suppose because it is so hearty. Traditionally made with veal cutlets, pork is often used as well. The snitzel is usually covered in a rich burgandy or brown mushroom gravy. Spaetzle are small German dumplings or noodles. Everyone knows what kraut is, but this recipe has some sweet and sour.
Anyway, there are a few decent German restaurants around here but I decided years ago if I wanted Jagersnitzel I would need to make it myself. Over the years that I have been making this particular meal I have started taking short cuts. Sue me! The first few times I made my own spaetzle from scratch (there are plenty of recipes out there). I also made the gravy from scratch as well back in the day. Not so much any more. If you are into that kind of thing, I would suggest making your own spaetzle at least once. With that said, you can find dried spaetzle in most grocery stores that is perfectly fine. Also, and I shutter while admitting this, I use packet brown gravy now.
All in all, this meal turns out great every time, it’s pretty easy to make and it is pretty inexpensive. The crispy fried pork, the rich thick gravy, the earthy mushrooms, the sweet and acid from the kraut and starch from the spaetzle all equal a nicely balanced meal. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
- 3-4 pork cutlets
- Flour for dredging
- Egg wash
- Bread crumbs. I usually prefer panko but for this I use seasoned Italian.
- 1 box Spaetzle
- 1 packet of brown gravy mix
- 8-10 ounces of mushrooms. I use baby belles but you can use whatever you like.
- Chicken stock
- 1 head of red cabbage
- Olive oil. I think traditionally Germans use butter.
- 3-6 tbsp sugar. I don’t like it real sweet so I use 3.
- 2/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
- Parsley and lemon to garnish
- Thinly slice the cabbage into strips.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the cabbage and sauté until the cabbage is wilted and tender. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar and toss to coat. Cover and reduce to simmer. Continue cooking, turning often for approximately 35 minutes.
- In another large pot bring water to boil and dump the box of spaetzle in. Follow the instructions to cook to al dente (we’ll be cooking this more shortly). Drain and set aside.
- One at a time, place the pork cutlets into a large resealable plastic bag. Using a meat mallet, pound the cutlets until very thin, maybe 1/4 of an inch.
- Create a tradition breading station. Dump the cutlet into seasoned flour (be sure to dust any excess off), then into the egg wash (eggs with a splash of milk), then into the bread crumbs. I get the pork totally covered by putting the bread crumbs into the plastic bag and tossing. Once all the pork is breaded, let them rest for a few minutes.
- At this point, if you are cooking more then two or three, you may want to turn your oven on a real low temperature to keep the pork warm will you finish cooking.
- In a large pan, over medium to medium-high heat, heat enough oil to cover the pan. Be sure the oil is good and hot before you get started. Cook all the cutlets on both sides until they are golden brown and crispy. Place on a cookie sheet and keep warm in the oven. keeep any leftover oil and bits in the pan.
- Dump the spaetzle into the hot pan and sauté until slightly browned.
- Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and sauté mushrooms until then just start to become tender. Sprinkle in gravy packet and chicken stock instead of water. Follow the recipe on the gravy packet. NOTE: you can de-glaze the mushrooms with some red wine before you add the gravy packet just reduce the amount of water or stock you add.
- Finally, I suggest when plating to squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the pork before serving. Enjoy.