When I first left home I had to learn to cook. My mother and grandmother were superb cooks, bakers and preservers. My father and grandfather were super-productive kitchen gardeners. So the table was well provided for.
Flatting meant fending for myself and despite being an observer in the kitchen I had never been hands on at home. That had to change.
One of my first standard offerings was Veal Paprika.
It was a kind of variation on the theme of beef stroganoff, with strips of schnitzel dusted with flour and paprika, cooked off, a bit of tomato paste and beef stock added and then finished with sour cream. Served with rice and cooked cabbage, it became a flat favourite. It was cheap and tasty.
A schnitzel is a boneless, thin cut of meat (escalope) that is often made thinner by pounding with a meat tenderiser. Traditionally veal, you can also buy schnitzel in beef and pork, and make chicken schnitzel by cutting slices from a chicken breast, placing them between two layers of kitchen paper and firmly rolling them thin with a rolling pin.
Many international cuisines feature schnitzel dishes in their repertoire.
Wiener schnitzel is a traditional Austrian dish.
1 Using veal or beef, dust the meat lightly with seasoned flour then dip it in beaten egg. Drag this through breadcrumbs to coat and then allow to firm up in the fridge before cooking.
2 Cook off a piece at a time in sizzling oil and butter. Hold in a warm oven on a baking tray that you have lined with paper towel to drain off excess oil. This will also crisp up the crumbs.
3 Serve with lemon wedges, mustard, potato salad and/or coleslaw, and some roasted baby beetroot.
Bought breadcrumbs can be a bit miserly. They tend to come as minuscule crumbs and are sometimes unnaturally seasoned. Make your own by using stale bread. Freeze unused bread till you have a decent amount to process. Thaw the bread and spread across a large roasting dish. Dry off slowly in a cooling or low oven, turn them to allow any steam to escape. When crackle dry, blitz them in your food processor and keep in a sealed container.
1 Flour, egg and crumb the meat. Try using Japanese Panko crumbs instead of bread.
2 Cook as you would the Wiener schnitzel.
3 Serve with a fresh coleslaw and a crunchy salad of sliced nashi pear, tart apples (I used the Jazz variety) and some diced feijoa. Coat the apple, nashi and feijoa with lemon juice as soon as you have cut them to stop browning. Mix in some sweet chilli sauce, a bit of fresh coriander if you like, and there you have it.
Note: Panko is the Japanese word for breadcrumbs. They tend to be lighter, crispier, and crunchier than Western breadcrumbs.
1 Slice a chicken breast crossways. The slices should be around half a centimetre thick.
2 Place these between some baking paper or cling film and gently but firmly roll them thinner with a rolling pin.
3 Flour, egg and coat the slices and allow them to firm in the fridge.
These can be cooked as any other schnitzel and served with accompanying vegetables or salads. It is a good way of making chicken go further.
A very hearty hot sandwich can be made by filling a flat bread, a piece of French stick or a bap with the cooked schnitzel, a good spread of cranberry or plum jelly and a slice of mild cheese.
After assembling, place the sandwiches in a moderate oven until the cheese melts.
These are great in front of the telly.
Here are other ways to make the most of these recipes:
* Create beef stroganoff using beef schnitzel
* Or try turning them into beef olives
Share your favourite schnitzel recipes with us: