Slovak Schnitzel (Černohorský rezeň)
After returning from my trip to Central Europe, one of the items I asked for at Christmas was a Czech cookbook. It’s a cuisine I had never made anything from before but one I was anxious to delve more into because I very much enjoyed the Czech dishes I had while in Prague. While there were a couple of cookbook titles that looked worthy, I ultimately settled on Ivana Veruzabova’s Czech and Slovak Food and Cooking. From the pictures shown on the Amazon preview, the recipes looked concise and straightforward, and the color photographs were extensive (not to mention gorgeous), not to mention it covered BOTH Czech and Slovak cuisine.
Now granted, I didn’t make it to Slovakia on my trip. But I would very much like to see its small but charming sounding capital of Bratislava (how I love pronouncing its name) whether on a Danube River Cruise (they all seem to stop here), or on another trip to Central Europe (one perhaps that includes Austria and Hungary). And while it’s easy to lump the Czech Republic and Slovakia together, the fact of the matter is that Slovaks have always been their own people, even if for most of history they’ve been under the rule of others (the Czechs and before that, the Magyars-Hungarians). But their language and customs (yes, the Slovak people speak Slovakian, not Czech), and more importantly, their cuisine, are their own.
While there were innumerable recipes I would have loved to try out, I ultimately had to settle on one that didn’t involve my oven. Why, you ask? Well, on Christmas morning my oven decided to die (yes, this actually happened, sadly). Thankfully I came across a great sounding recipe for Černohorský rezeň, Slovakian-style schnitzel. Now maybe you’re familiar with the very famous Austrian schnitzel and you’re wondering well, what makes it Slovakian? Instead of having a fried breaded exterior, its outer layer is made of a potato dough. It was a little trickier to make than just plain schnitzel namely due to the fact that you weren’t just “unceremoniously” dumpling the chicken breast into pools of milk and bread crumbs, you actually had to work at it (i.e. make sure the potato layer actually stayed on). But the effort was worth it. And knowing how cold it gets in Slovakia, it was also the type of dish that could definitely be labeled as “rich and hearty” winter fare.
Anyone else in the mood to explore both Bratislava and the Slovakian countryside?
Černohorský rezeň (Slovak Schnitzel)
Recipe courtesy of Czech and Slovak Food and Cooking by Ivana Veruzabova
4 large skinless chicken breast fillets
2 potatoes, peeled and finely grated
1 tbsp dried marjoram
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup milk
1 cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting
scant 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups cup grated cheese such as Edam or cheddar
slat and ground black pepper
-Tenderize the chicken by putting it between two sheets of clear film (plastic wrap) and pounding it with a rolling pin into thin fillets.
-Mix the potatoes in a bowl with the eggs, marjoram, crushed garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Gradually add milk and enough flour to make a thick dough. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll or pat each out until large enough to wrap around a chicken fillet.
-Dust each chicken fillet in flour and then wrap in potato dough.
-Heat a frying pan with the oil over low-medium heat until just hot. Immediately, put the fillets into the pan and cook gently for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until the dough is golden and the chicken is cooked through.
-Top the schnitzels with the grated cheese and serve warm. Serve with chips or fried potatoes, tartar sauce and a salad.