Last week, poking around on the net, I ran across Hank Shaw's recipe for Jaeger Schnitzel and immediately I wondered why on earth I had never made elk Milanese. My wife spent time growing up in Argentina and her family made Milanese whenever good veal was available. I whipped this dinner up last night after a long day at work. Call it what you like: Milanese, Wiener Schnitzel, Steak and Frites, Chicken Fried Steak and Fries. Whatever, it was a truly excellent meal that I can hardly wait to repeat.
Slice an elk steak into thin slabs, maybe 1/2" thick and then, covered with a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper - pound/press them even flatter. I used a wine bottle. A quarter of an inch thick is fine and even thinner is not unacceptable. Salt and pepper the meat. Have three shallow plates - one with flour, one with a beaten egg and the third with bread crumbs. Heat 1/2 a stick of butter and olive oil in a large pan (I use a cast iron frying pan). Add as much olive oil as needed to make the oil 1/4" to 1/2" deep in the bottom of the pan. Dip the meat in the flour, then coat with egg and finally drop it in the bread crumbs, sprinkle a bit more on top and press. Once the oil is hot - place the breaded meat into the pan and cook for a few minutes a side - until golden brown. Put them on a paper towel to soak up any remaining oil and then put them in a warm oven while the next batch cooks. Garnish with sliced lemon wedges.
|A favorite food book.|
Packed away somewhere in my basement is a copy of Joseph Wechsberg's book The Cooking of the Vienna's Empire. I can't remember the exact trick but I seem to recall that he has rather excellent advice on how to flour, egg and bread the meat so that the crust lifts off in a thin layer. Maybe it was in his other excellent book Blue Trout and Black Truffles - also some in my basement. I could not find Wechsberg's technique in any of the cook books I do have access to. I was surprised that it is not mentioned in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Meat Book, but it isn't. I am surprised that Nicola Fletcher does not include a Milanese recipe in her excellent book Ultimate Venison Cookery.
* * *
Between the two of us, we shared a small elk steak, a large potato and a bottle of Chardonnay. The potato was cut into fries using an inexpensive but handy mandolin. A salad would have been a nice addition - but it was late and I was tired and we were hungry. Properly done, this a rather delicate presentation - a thin golden brown crust, with the meat still pink inside. The earthy and slightly gamey flavor of the elk was magnificently present. We drank a Chardonnay with this - perhaps not the best choice, but it was the bottle we first opened when we got home and really, it was just fine with the meal. Next time perhaps we may uncork a light red - perhaps a Pinot Noir. This meal is highly recommended.