For years now, my vision of a great brunch has included chicken schnitzel, pita, hummus, and some great Israeli salad. It originated in my weekend visits to family–the sound (and oh so wonderful smell) of schnitzel (or catfish) frying would ease the entire family out of a preternatural slumber until we all gravitated towards the kitchen and eagerly set the table and sat down, often still in our pajamas, to a brunch that would then be systematically devoured.
Some of us preferred the fried catfish, opening the pita (the thick kind that you can get at specialty stores, not the silly thin kind you get at the grocery stores) and slathering hummus, and spooning the cucumber and tomato salad inside before plopping a thick and crisp piece of fish inside. There. A catfish pita sandwich. Eat. Chew. Swallow. Smile. Repeat.
Others preferred the chicken schnitzel, pounded and breaded and fried and oh so tasty. This, some family members would initially eat with their fingers, plain without bread until their savage desire was satisfied. Then yes, open up the pita bread, slather hummus, spoon salad inside, and then plop a piece of crisp chicken inside. And devour.
I have made my own adjustments to a family recipe–I leave onions out of the salad because well, I am not fond of raw onions…and I add a squirt of spicy Sriracha sauce to the sandwich, which we have come to love in our household. In this way, the recipe has continued to evolve–and in this way, I’ve added my own Asian flavor to a traditional meal.
This is a comfort food in our family, a dish that children are taught before being sent off to college, so simple it is to make, and so satisfactory to the soul.
We have eaten this dish to celebrate homecomings and family gatherings–and we have eaten this dish as a way to nurse hangovers. As with all comfort food, chicken schnitzel, pita and hummus serve so many functions.
I hope it is satisfactory to your soul, too.
Recipes for chicken schnitzel and Israeli-style salad follow after the jump…
RECIPE for ISRAELI SALAD
2-3 Persian cucumbers (or 1 English cucumber)
2-3 medium tomatoes
juice of 1-2 lemons
zest of 1 lemon
3 tsp chopped parsley
Peel and chop cucumbers into 1/4-1/2 inch chunks. Chop tomatoes into 1/4-1/2 inch chunks. Put into a medium bowl. Add lemon juice, zest, and parsley. Toss to combine, and serve immediately.
RECIPE FOR CHICKEN SCHNITZEL
1 pound of skinless chicken breasts
juice of 1 lemon
2 whole eggs
1 cup white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1-2 tsp lawry’s seasoned salt
about 2 cups bread crumbs (I use Progresso bread crumbs)
about 3 cups of vegetable oil, for frying
Take out chicken breasts and cut into about 2-3 equal pieces, per breast. Cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper, and pound with a meat tenderizer until about 1/4 inch (or less) thick. (I find this step very refreshing, btw).
Remove plastic wrap/wax paper and squeeze juice of one lemon onto pounded chicken breasts.
While the lemon juice continues to tenderize the chicken…crack eggs and mix lightly in a bowl. Mix the flour, baking powder, and seasoned salt in another bowl. And put the bread crumbs in a 3rd bowl.
Now prep the chicken for frying. Dip each piece of chicken lightly in the flour. Then dunk in the egg. Then dip in the breadcrumbs until the pounded chicken pieces are covered. Stack the prepared chicken pieces on a plate.
Heat oil in a large pan to 375F (on my stove this results from setting my stovetop to medium-high heat). Fry each chicken piece until golden. Put on a plate with paper towels to drain and cool.
Serve on its own…or with pita, hummus, and Israeli salad (oh, and spicy Sriracha sauce).