Schnitzel, Spaetzle, and Gingersnap Gravy

Using crushed pretzels as the coating for a pork schnitzel adds a nice texture to the coating. The flour, egg, pretzel sequence of coating, as well as allowing the coating to rest for five minutes before frying, ensures better adherence. The spaetzle gets an addition of New Glarus Totally Naked in place of milk or eggs, and the result is a bit lighter with just a slight overtone of the flavors in the beer. Totally Naked is a very lovely, and very light, beer. This seems to be an experiment worth revisiting with darker, bolder beers and perhaps whole wheat flours or other alternative grains. We used a new product in the sauce – Bonewerks Culinarte’ Demi-Glace de Porc. It is a thicken, reduced pork stock from their kitchen in Green Bay, WI.

Bonewerks Demi-Glace de Porc
Bonewerks Demi-Glace de Porc

Their products are well made and a great “cheater” on a dish or sauce if you don’t have a long simmered pork broth on hand at the time – super convenient. The other flavors in the sauce are intended to echo those in sauerbraten, which in some traditional recipes includes crushed gingersnap cookies. We recommend using craft brew vinegar for the sauce, but apple cider vinegar is a workable substitute.

Pork Schnitzel
2 pounds boneless pork loin
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups pretzels (crushed fine)
½ cup canola oil (see below)

Note: This is pork loin, not tenderloin. This is often sold as boneless pork chops, which is the loin cut into 1 inch steaks.

Heat oven to 200 degrees.

If purchased as a full loin, cut into 1-inch pieces across the grain, and then place each piece inside a plastic freezer bag and use a meat mallet to pound the pieces until 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle each piece with flour to coat lightly, but completely. Mix the eggs and milk together in a shallow, wide bowl. Spread the pretzels in a sheet pan. Dip each piece fully in the egg mixture and then press both sides into pretzel mixture to coat well. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Over medium high heat, heat canola oil in a large cast iron pan. Oil should be approximately ¼ inch high on the sides of the pan. When oil shimmers, but is not smoking, add pork. It should immediately begin to sizzle. Work in batches and do not crowd pan. Pieces should fit in one layer with some spacing around them. Allow to cook until a golden brown, slightly darker than corn flakes. Turn over to complete cooking.

Remove pieces as they finish to a draining rack set over a sheet pan in the oven to stay warm as you complete the remaining pieces.

Beer Spaetzle
6 cups chicken broth
1 ½ cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
¾ cup beer
2 Tbs. butter

Note: we used New Glarus Totally Naked for our dumplings, a lighter offering from the folks at New Glarus, but only available in Wisconsin. Nearly any beer will work in this application based on your flavor preference.

In a large pot over high heat, bring broth to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Dough should be slightly thicker than pancake batter with some elasticity. Over the simmer broth, working in batches, force the dough through a spaetzle maker, a colander with holes, or a spoon with holes. As the dough falls into the pot, it will cook into irregular shaped dumplings. They will float to the surface, or give a light stir until they do. Cook for 3 minutes then strain out with a slotted spoon, and layer onto a sheet pan while completing the remainder of the dough.

Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat, and when foam subsides, working in batches as to not crowd the pan, toss the spaetzle until just slight browning appears on edges. Serve immediately.

Gingersnap Sauce
½ cup molasses
½ cup craft beer vinegar or apple cider vinegar
4 ounces Bonewerks Demi-Glace de Porc (½ cup ham or similar stock would also work)
Pinch Penzey’s powdered ginger
Pinch Penzey’s ground cloves

Place all ingredients in a large sauté pan over medium high heat and reduce until as thick as maple syrup.

Pork Schnitzle, Beer Spaetzle, Gingersnap Gravy
Pork Schnitzel, Beer Spaetzle, Gingersnap Gravy

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