Day 4 Mushrooms

People use all sorts of things to measure time.  The obvious choice, of course, is a clock, but when you think about it, there are other more subtle ways to measure time.

Your newborn baby sleeps through the entire night.  Congratulations, you just made it to six months, or has it been a year?  Your neighbors have their trash cans lined up on the street.  Oh, it’s weekly trash pickup day.  You see Christmas decorations pop up at local stores when there wasn’t any the day before.  It must be September already. 

The kitchen is full of time measuring devices, aside from a clock on the stove or microwave oven.  The refrigerator and pantry are full of time reminders.  Expiration dates and “best sold by” dates are on just about everything.  They tell you the necessary information, which is, “use this item before this time, or you will risk making everyone sick”.  What they don’t tell you is when you bought the item.  All you care about is the expiration date, and that’s OK.

Some food items are like time bombs.  Their life clock starts ticking from the moment you put them in your shopping basket until the moment you eat them.  King among those sort of items is common, white button mushrooms.

I look at mushrooms like this…

Day 1 – The mushrooms are nearly perfect.  Rinse off the dirt, pat them dry and you can use them in fresh salads or any other purpose.

Day 2 – The mushrooms have barely changed.  You might want to trim off the bottoms of the stems because they have turned a little brown, otherwise they are still good for any use.

Day 3 – Why haven’t I used these yet?  If I use them now, I will need to pluck the stems out of the mushroom caps.  They’re still fresh enough for salads, but just barely.

Day 4 and 5 – Critical warning!  Mushrooms look a little smaller and browner than they did a few days ago.  They also feel wet, in a not-so-good way.   Use them now, or risk the death throes of Day 6, or dare I mention, Day 7!

Day 6 and 7 – Well, I really screwed up!  I knew this was coming.  I open the package and inspect the mushrooms.  They have big, soft brown spots on them, and they aren’t white anymore, and wow, what’s that awful smell?

Fortunately, I’m only on Day 4 with my mushrooms.  They aren’t salad worthy, and I need to find a way to disguise them and showcase them at the same time.  Sauces are great solutions for vegetables and fungi as they enter their “autumn years”.

Let’s make some jägerschnitzel!

First of all, if your menu choice contains an umlaut in its name, you earn bonus points, and possibly a James Beard award!  Secondly, if it is a compound German word, you receive the smug satisfaction of knowing a compound word when you see one. 

Jägerschnitzel is a hunter’s schnitzel with mushroom gravy.  Jäger means “hunter” and schnitzel means…well, schnitzel means schnitzel.  Schnitzel refers to the pounding and breading method used when preparing the meat.

I made a few substitutions along the way, like sake instead of white wine and panko breadcrumbs instead of traditional breadcrumbs and I’m happier for it!  I only took a few photos, but trust me, this is fairly easy to make and is very satisfying. 

Mushroom Gravy Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

½ onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

¼ cup flour

½ cup white wine (I used saké)

2 cups beef stock

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

Mushroom Gravy Directions:

Heat the olive oil in skillet.  Add butter and chopped onion.  Stir for two minutes. 

Add garlic and continue stirring for another two minutes.

Add mushrooms and stir for three minutes.

Add flour and mix to combine.

Add wine and cook for three minutes.

Add beef stock and stir sauce for about five minutes, until thickened.

Add mustard and Worcestershire sauce. 

Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Schnitzel Ingredients:

1 cup cooking oil

4 boneless, center cut pork chops, pounded to about 1/8” thick

2 eggs

2 teaspoons water

1 ½ cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed

Schnitzel Directions:

Pound the pork chops until they are very thin, about 1/8” thick.  I like to lay the chops on wax paper and add another piece of wax paper on top and then pound the chops with the flat side of a meat cleaver.

Mix the eggs in a large bowl with water.

Spread the flour across a large plate.

Spread the breadcrumbs across a large plate.

Dredge the pork in the flour, dip in egg wash, and dredge in the breadcrumbs.

Fry the thin pork chops in hot oil for about three minutes and turn them over.  Continue frying for another three minutes, or until golden brown, and remove them to warm place.

I serve the schnitzel with fried potatoes on a platter with the mushroom gravy on the side.  This allows each person the option to add as much gravy as they like to the schnitzel.  I like to pour the gravy over everything!

And a little sauerkraut seals the deal!