I might be a romantic, but I have no love for Valentine’s Day. Years of February 14ths spent in restaurant kitchens ruined it for me forever. Mothers Day brunch is no cakewalk either, but Valentine’s Day is hands-down the worst day to be in a kitchen. Special “aphrodisiac” menus, rings ridiculously hidden in parfaits, the pressure, the hordes, the carnations, the chocolate-covered strawberries, the heart-shaped everything, the red, the pink . . . it’s all much too much. Dinner as performance is just not my scene. Which is not to say that I don’t believe food can be seductive, sensual, warm as a steamy embrace.
Take this recipe . . . really, it had me at “brown butter.” Deliciously bitter greens, velvety, chewy homemade spaetzle, and crunchy pork schnitzel have me completely wrapped around their finger when bathed in its nutty, toasty, fragrant richness. And that can make me swoon any day of the year.
Pork Schnitzel with Greens & Brown Butter
for pork schnitzel:
1 pound pork cutlets
salt & pepper
1 cup dry breadcrumbs
grapeseed or other high-heat neutral oil for frying
cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
12 oz. mixed greens
4 Tbs. butter
1 meyer lemon–1/2 juiced, 1 half cut into wedges
Make spaetzle: In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg-milk mixture. Gradually draw in the flour from the sides and combine well; the dough should be smooth and thick. Let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot, then reduce to a simmer. To form the spaetzle, hold a large holed colander or spaetzle maker over the simmering water and push the dough through the holes with a spatula or spoon. Do this in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pot. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the spaetzle floats to the surface, stirring gently to prevent sticking. Remove spaetzle into a colander with a slotted spoon and give it a quick rinse with cool water, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and set aside.
Season pork cutlets with salt and pepper, then dredge in breadcrumbs. Heat oil over med-high heat and fry until golden and cooked through. Drain on rack or on paper bag, then place in oven at 200 degrees to keep warm while preparing the rest of dish.
In a small, heavy skillet or saucepan, melt butter and continue to cook over low heat, stirring, until butter becomes fragrant and brown. Stir in lemon juice and hold over low heat.
In large skillet, heat olive oil. Rinse greens and add to hot oil with water still clinging to the leaves. Season with salt and saute quickly until just wilted. Remove to plate. In same skillet, add spaetzle and brown butter, reserving a tablespoon or so of butter, and heat until warm throughout.
To serve, place spaetzle on plate, then top with a pork cutlet and greens. Drizzle with reserved brown butter. Serve with a wedge of Meyer lemon on the side.