Sephardic Recipes With A Modern Twist

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The Incredibly Crispy Chicken Schnitzel

Nowadays, crispy, golden delicious schnitzel is one of the most popular items in the Israeli kitchen and on restaurant menus.

When I was 14 years old, my parents sent my older brother Rafi and I to Israel for our summer vacation. Of course, our Australian summer was smack dab in the middle of Israel’s winter and our cousins had school. Luckily for us, they’d come home from school at 1 o’clock. Some days, we’d grab a falafel in pita or a shawarma laffa from a street vendor. When we would eat at home, we’d pull some frozen schnitzel out of the freezer. We’d fry it with some chips (French fries). We’d chop up tomato and cucumber and open a can of Israeli pickles. We’d slather hummus on pita and bury the schnitzel inside and sigh with satisfaction at the first bite.

While breading and frying meat has been around for centuries, there is a legend that an Austrian general fighting a battle in Northern Italy fell in love with the the northern Italian dish “cotaletta alla milanese” (Milanese veal cutlet). He ordered his chefs in Vienna to replicate the dish and the famous dish Wiener schnitzel (literally Vienna schnitzel) was born.

When Ashkenazi Jews emigrated to Israel, they brought this beloved recipe with them. Soon enough, chicken and turkey breast replaced the veal (too expensive and hard to find).

Nowadays, crispy, golden delicious schnitzel is one of the most popular items in the Israeli kitchen and on restaurant menus.
—Sharon

Many years ago our good friend Nir Weinblut, owner of the famous Los Angeles kosher restaurant La Gondola, gave me his secret for mouthwatering schnitzel. Marinating the chicken breasts in a mixture of mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar guarantees a tender, flavorful cutlet.

The difference with my recipe and most other schnitzel recipes is that I don’t pound the chicken. Pounding the chicken breast and creating thin crispy schnitzel is absolutely delicious, but only when eaten right away. Usually I serve schnitzel on Friday nights, so I can’t serve it immediately after frying. By making smaller, thicker pieces of chicken breast, the schnitzel stays moist.

I always use Panko crumbs because they really up the crisp factor. And I always double my recipe so that I can freeze some cutlets for later. Separate the raw schnitzel with parchment paper and you always have a quick option for a fabulous meal.

Schnitzel is always a winner!
—Rachel

SCHNITZEL RECIPE 

2 pounds boneless chicken breast,
cut to desired size
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 gallon size freezer bag
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups panko crumbs
(any flavor you prefer)
Avocado or vegetable oil for frying
1 carrot for frying

  • In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and garlic powder.
  • Cut breasts to desired size and place in the bowl with mayonnaise mixture, then set aside for 20 minutes.
  • Place flour in a gallon size freezer bag, then set aside.
  • In a flat bowl, beat eggs and salt.
  • Place the panko breading on a large plate.
  • Take a few pieces of the marinated chicken and place in the flour bag. Make sure that all sides of the chicken pieces are well coated with flour.
  • Place the floured chicken pieces into the beaten egg. Make sure that both sides are soaked with egg.
  • Place the chicken pieces into the panko crumbs and bread on both sides.
  • Line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towel or brown paper bag.
  • Over medium flame, heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a large frying pan.
  • Place carrot and a few chicken pieces into the hot oil, making sure not to crowd the pan.
  • Fry until both sides are golden, about 5 to 7 minutes total.
  • Place fried chicken on prepared baking sheet to drain the oil.

Sharon Gomperts and Rachel Emquies Sheff have been friends since high school. They love cooking and sharing recipes. They have collaborated on Sephardic Educational Center projects and community cooking classes. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC 

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