Friday, March 25, 2011

Beef Schnitzel

I live in the East Village. Did you know that? And I love living in the East Village. But. But, Brianna moved out, my lease is ending, and my cousin and I are moving in together. And I need more space. In New York, the space:rent:proximity-to-Manhattan ratios are a bit tricky to compute, but I'm pretty sure Brooklyn = more space and less rent, so we might go there. In any case, I'm too sad to even begin talking about living without Brianna (let alone live it), so I'm busying myself with spending as much time as possible re-exploring the East Village. And cooking, of course.

Being as obsessed with food as I am, some of my favorite places in the neighborhood are the places where I can buy food. Restaurants, of course, but also markets, grocery stores, and even bodegas. There's this Asian grocery store on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 11th Street, M2M. Do you know it? As far as Asian supermarkets go, this one doesn't quite compare to the ones in Chinatown, Flushing, or even K-town. But it's the neighborhood Asian market, you know? It has what I need (kimchi and my favorite brand of instant ramen) and I'm not ashamed to admit that I love it!

So, at M2M, they sell this rib eye that's sliced almost paper thin. It's not quite as thin as something you'd use for hot pot, but it's pretty damn thin. And every time I go to the store, I walk up to it, admire it, wonder what I could make with it, and walk away, without the rib eye. Then, one day, I came across this article. That thinly sliced rib eye in the case at M2M immediately came to mind. "So this is what you're supposed to do with that," I thought. Ever since, I've been thinking about that rib eye and what else I could do with it, and this week, I finally picked some up.

Hmm, what to do with super thin meat to make it super delicious? Why, bread it and fry it, of course! Though I've made variations of this with pork and chicken, I've never tried it with beef. Boy, was I missing out. The rib eye is just so thin that, even though you're breading it and frying it, it's super light. You don't have to worry about cooking it all the way through like you do with pork or chicken, so a quick browning in the pan is really all you need. As soon as the crust becomes crisp, you take it out of the pan. The rib eye stays tender and juicy, even as thin as it is. Served alongside crunchy, bright string beans and a wedge of lemon, this schnitz is just plain WINNING.

Beef Schnitzel
I made this in my borrowed dutch oven, as my good friend Heather advised, and it worked out really well. Like she predicted, the sides of the pot really helped with splatter control. However, if you have a cast iron skillet, as I don't, I imagine that might be an even better choice.

1 pound rib eye, sliced about 1/4-inch thin
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
olive oil, for frying
lemon wedges, for serving

Set up your breading assembly line with 3 shallow bowls. In the first, add the flour. In the second, beat the eggs and add a few drops of water. In the third, spread the breadcrumbs. Season each bowl with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add a turn of oil and let that heat up. Dredge each slice of rib eye in the flour, dip it in egg, and then press into the breadcrumbs until coated all around. Fry in the oil until crisp and brown, about a minute per side. Serve schnitzel hot outta the pan with a wedge of lemon and a heap of string beans.

String Beans and Fennel
This dish serves as something bright and refreshing to go with your hot schnitzel. The fennel just happened to be in my fridge, so I tossed that in as well. Feel free to think up your own variation!

1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
1 bulb fennel, trimmed, cored, and sliced thin
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
olive oil
sliced almonds (optional)

Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Add the string beans and cook for about 7 minutes until they're bright green and crisp and tender all at once. Drain and rinse quickly under cold water, then toss with fennel, lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with almonds, and serve with your hot schnitzel.