Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rahmschnitzel: Medallions of Pork with Cream Sauce

Tonight I have assembled the ingredients, consulted my notes, and reviewed my pictures to try and duplicate one of my wife's favorite dishes: rahmschnitzel.  Rahm translates literally into cream in German, and while schnitzel translates to cutlet it means more than just cutlet.  Schnitzel can be pork, chicken, beef, or anything else that could be a local specialty.  It could be breaded, it could be plain, in sauce, with sauce, with French fries or anything else, but I've never seen schnitzel that wasn't fried.  Most people have heard of Wienerschnitzel, and that too is delicious.  But my wife's stepmom explained to me how she makes rahmschnitzel and let me watch her do it, so here's my attempt with ingredients from the US.

The assembled ingredients

1 - 1 1/4 lbs boneless pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons mustard (approximately)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used safflower oil, it was all I had other than olive oil)
1 pint heavy cream
2 teaspoons salt (approximately)
1 teaspoon pepper (approximately)

1/2 lb egg pappardelle pasta

The boneless pork tenderloin came from Trader Joe's, I get a lot of Trader Joe's meat.  They have a marinated boneless pork tenderloin that's pretty good, but rahmschnitzel is more than pretty good.  When buying meat at Trader Joe's it is important to keep a few things in mind.  Trader Joe's cuts its meat at one central facility and packages it there; it is then shipped to their stores around the region.  The meat is not as fresh as what you would get from a local butcher or supermarket where they cut the meat on premises.  It also means you have to keep a close eye on expiration dates.  At Trader Joe's the most popular stuff is always the freshest because they can't keep it on the shelf long enough for it to go bad.

The next ingredient is when I fail in my attempt to use only US ingredients.  I forgot to buy mustard.  Fortunately, I have this awesome Thomy brand mustard; unfortunately, it comes from Switzerland.  It's a mild mustard, and it would be easy to substitute one from the US.  You could use something between yellow mustard and spicy brown, or Dijon mustard would work too.

We have these Furi knives, I guess they're Rachael Ray knives.  They're pretty good, and they come with this bamboo case.  They can probably cut a Volkswagen in half then immediately cut a tomato the same way.

Preparing medallions of pork

Rubbed with mustard

Jack keeping an eye on the butter for me

Cut the pork tenderloin into medallions about 1/2 an inch thick, and rub them with the mustard.  The pork will have to be fried in shifts; there isn't enough room in the pan to fit it all at once.  Set the oven to 70 degrees celsius, which is roughly 160 degrees farenheit, to keep the pork warm as the rest of it cooks.  Put the pork aside and warm the butter and oil in a large saucepan over high heat.  The original recipe uses some kind of butter that's specially made for frying things, and for some reason I substituted butter and oil for it.  Around this time I turned my back, and when I came back my cat had eaten the butter right out of the pan.  I got some more butter, scolded my cat, and began again.  When the oil/butter mix starts to sizzle add the medallions of pork, cooking them for a few minutes on each side.  I should have timed how long each was in the pan, but I just watched and waited until I thought enough time had passed.  When I turned them over and they were browned to the right level I was glad.  You want each side slightly browned on the outside; it's probably best to try and duplicate what's pictured below.

One side finished
I put the cooked pork in a glass pyrex baking dish, added some salt and pepper, covered it with foil, and put it in the warm oven.  Keep all of the oil and drippings in the pan, and don't pat dry the cooked medallions at all.  The amount of pork I had only required two round of frying in the pan, but I kept the first round in the oven while the second fried.  When the second round of medallions was finished I added them to the pyrex with the others, then salted and peppered again.  I returned the pyrex to the oven.

When I finished cooking the pork I realized that I should have started water boiling earlier for the pasta.  When the pork is done the cream sauce is made right in the same pan, so it's best to start boiling the water before the pork is finished.

When I saw this dish prepared it got 4 dl (deciliters) of heavy cream and had twice as much pork as I prepared.  In the US we sell pints of heavy cream, and one pint is about 473 ml or 4.73 dl.  All that resulted from these conversion errors is an excess of cream sauce.  More than twice as much cream sauce as is needed.  There are worse mistakes to make.

Pour the heavy cream into the saucepan, then take the pyrex from the oven and also pour the drippings into the saucepan.   Stir the mixture constantly for at least 8 minutes at low to medium heat.  I played with the heat setting constantly, and I probably should have kept it closer to medium to cook the sauce down more.  It needs close attention and lots of stirring or the sauce will burn, and you want all of the flavor from the pan in the sauce.  There is a secret ingredient that my stepmother-in-law used at this step, something called "Fond de Veau Concentre."  It's basically beef bouillon, salt, onion powder, chicken powder, and some other things that don't seem very natural.  If you don't have enough drippings from the pork or want to make a lot of extra sauce, this is a shortcut to give it flavor.  This is an ingredient not available in the US so I will not use it this time.

Be careful not to drop the pork

When 8 minutes have passed remove the pyrex from the oven again and pour the sauce over the pork.  Return the whole thing to the oven and you have time to prepare a salad, finish cooking the noodles, or do anything else to prepare for the meal.

Add the sauce to the pork and return to the oven
This came out quite good.  The pork was still a little pink, which is something that used to be unheard of.  Pork can contain tapeworm and other illness causing things, and it can still be dangerous to eat undercooked pork, but in today's world where we understand germs and proper food handling procedures it's no longer necessary to overcook it.  I think the next time I make this I will use a bit more salt, and cook the cream sauce down a bit more.  I used some very fancy, very delicious, and very expensive egg pappardelle pasta; I didn't need to spring for the $6.99 per 8.8 oz package pasta.  But it was delicious.  There is no question that I will make this dish again, and next time  I will try it with the Fond de Veau that I brought back from vacation.  It's certainly not necessary, however, to make this dish fantastic.

Ready to eat

1 comment: