We are pretty big into musicals at the Dever household and it's pretty unusual to not hear at least one family member singing. As I write this, my youngest is busting out a Sweeny Todd song as she is getting ready for work.
So, we could have chosen other musical inspirations, but collectively we went with The Sound of Music, as much for the musical itself as for the inspired meal from it: the schnitzel.
Some might remember from last year when I was in my burger throes and made like 20 really kick-butt creations, that the Schnitzel Burger was the first in that list - another one on a homemade bun.
That was all fine and tasty, but then the magic of the chickpea brine was brought to our arena and now the Schnitzel needs a remake.
A regular schnitzel is made using an egg bath which actually adds a unique texture to the breading. It isn't really like breading with just a sticky substance (such as flax or cashew milk) that is then dredging in bread crumbs. The egg bath for this dish puffs up and creates a tender, fluffy texture.
I wanted to see if the magical chickpea brine would enhance the texture of the breading, so I made one batch with the whipped brine and another with just starch+liquid combo, acting as the glue that binds.
Verdict: the chickpea brine produced a noticeably different texture! The breading was indeed lighter and fluffier than the one without. I believe the schnitzel pictured above had some of the breading fall off a bit [which is where there is no fluffy breading], but you can see where the breading adhered that it is puffed up, just as in the egg-based schnitzels. Score!
To fix the falling off dilemma, I wound up chilling some of the cutlets in the freezer for about 10 minutes to help make them stick to the seitan; that worked well, so chilling it first will be my procedure hence forth.
As for the seitan, I used the Simple Seitan from Everyday Vegan Eats (Amazon, B&N), but instead of making cutlets, I cooked the gluten as a roast and sliced the seitan about 1/4-inch thin. This resulted in a really crisp, but fluffy coating.
All in all, definitely the way to go when you splurge and make a schnitzel. Reminded me of my days in the restaurant [minus the cruelty]. Yippee!
Schnitzel [using chickpea brine]
Makes about 6 cutlets
½ cup dry fine bread crumbs
½ teaspoon paprika
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup chickpea brine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound seitan loaf (Everyday Vegan Eats has a great one!), cut into ¼-inch slices and gently squeezed of excess moisture
Neutral oil for frying
1. Combine the bread crumbs and paprika in a shallow pan (cake pans are awesome). Season with salt and black pepper. Add the ¼-cup flour to a separate shallow pan and season with salt and black pepper. Whip the chickpea brine into stiff peaks using a stand mixer, if possible. Gently fold in the 2 tablespoons flour.
2. Dredge each seitan slice first in the flour, then in the chickpea mixture and finally in the breadcrumbs. Set the cutlets in the freezer for 10 minutes to help the breading to adhere.
3. Heat ¼-inch oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 popcorn kernels. When the popcorn pops, the oil is at the correct temperature.
4. Cook the cutlets in the hot oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Do not crowd the skillet; cook the cutlets in batches. Drain the cutlets on paper towels.
5. Serve with lemon slices.
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