Oktoberfest provides a fine excuse each autumn to delve into German cookery, and jaeger schnitzel is an appropriate seasonal dish to prepare. The name's literal meaning is "hunter's cutlets," and it's a dish that was traditionally prepared from wild-caught venison or boar during the autumn hunting season. Modern jaeger schnitzel is typically made from ordinary pork, rather than its sharp-tusked wild cousin, but the dish's signature mushroom gravy remains unchanged.
Things You'll Need
- Pork or venison loin, or other game meat
- Plastic wrap, or heavy-duty freezer bag
- Meat mallet
- Button or wild mushrooms
- Yellow onion
- Beef, chicken or venison stock
- Heavy skillet
- Instant-mixing "gravy" flour
- Red wine or sherry (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Cut a 1/2-inch slice of pork or venison loin for each diner. Place the first between two sheets of plastic wrap or inside a heavy-duty freezer bag, and pummel it lightly with a meat mallet until it's reduced to half of its original thickness. Repeat for the remaining cutlets; then transfer them to a clean plate and refrigerate them until you're ready to prepare the dish.
Slice or coarsely chop 1/4 to 1/2 pound of mushrooms per diner, according to your taste for mushrooms, and half or all of a medium-sized yellow onion. Saute the mushrooms in approximately a tablespoon of oil, butter or bacon fat, until they've released their moisture, and it has evaporated. Add the onions, and cook gently until they're lightly browned and aromatic. Transfer the onion and mushroom mixture to a bowl, and set it aside.
Pour beef, chicken or venison stock into a small saucepan, and bring it to a simmer. You'll need approximately 1/4 cup of broth for each diner, so measure accordingly.
Return your skillet to the burner over medium-high heat, bringing it to a high temperature. Add a few more drops of fat if necessary; then add the cutlets one or two at a time. Sear the cutlets for roughly 1 1/2 minutes per side, until browned; then remove them to a plate and keep them warm. Repeat for the remaining schnitzels. Don't crowd them in the skillet, or they won't sear properly.
Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of quick-mixing "gravy" flour into the hot skillet, and stir it into the fat left behind after cooking the schnitzels. Stir for 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture browns. Whisk in the heated broth in a steady stream, taking care to break up any lumps. If you'd like to enrich the sauce with a splash of red wine or sherry, add it at this stage.
Simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it makes a thick gravy. Stir in an ounce or two of heavy cream, then taste the sauce and fine-tune the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. Once you're satisfied with the flavor and consistency, stir your onion-and-mushroom mixture back into the hot sauce and give it a moment or two for them to reheat. Spoon the sauce over your schnitzels, and serve them with boiled potatoes.