Photo by @andrealoretdemola
Chicken schnitzel is a dish that appears across dinner tables at home as well as restaurant menus all over Israel. The craveable, crispy cutlet is delicious all on its own or wedged into a pita for an easy sandwich. In this version, flour is used to prevent the chicken from sticking to any surfaces while pounding out thin with a mallet (which allows it to cook faster and become more tender and juicy).
The pickled fennel salad served with this version provides acidity to balance the salty, shallow fried cutlet as well as a complementary crunch. Pickling fennel highlights the anise in its profile while toning down the raw flavor. Like it’s counterpart in this dish, pickled fennel is versatile and great to have on hand to enjoy on smoked salmon, over rice, or with braised meats throughout the week.
For the pickled fennel
- 1 fennel bulb, quartered, shaved into thin slices
- Fennel fronds (reserved from fennel bulbs)
- 1/ 2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/ 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 5-6 black peppercorns Diaspora Co. Black Pepper
- 1/ 2 jalapeño (keep the seeds intact)
- 1-2 strips orange peel
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar such as Eden's Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
For the schnitzel and salad
- 2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound), butterflied
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided, plus more for finishing
- 1/ 2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/ 4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 eggs, plus 1 tablespoon water
- All-purpose flour, for dusting chicken (gluten free flour can be substituted)
- 1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (gluten free breadcrumbs can be substituted)
- 1/ 2 cup neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola), for frying
- 1/ 2 small red onion, halved and cut into thin slices
- 1/ 2 cucumber, cut into thin slices
- 1/ 4 cup parsley leaves
- 1/ 4 cup mint leaves
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
For the pickled fennel
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, toast fennel, coriander, and black peppercorns until fragrant (approximately 2-3 minutes).
Add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a low simmer and stir until dissolved.
Add jalapeño, orange peel, garlic and bay leaf and let sit for a few minutes.
Place the sliced fennel in a small heat proof bowl. Pour the pickling liquid over the fennel, making sure it’s completely submerged. Cover or transfer to an airtight container and let cool. Once cooled, transfer to the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight.
For the schnitzel
Lay a piece of plastic wrap over your cutting board. Lightly dust chicken breast with flour to prevent sticking. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap and using a mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken about ¼-inch thin. Repeat with the second chicken breast.
Season chicken with ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, paprika and cumin and set aside.
In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon water. In a separate shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs with remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
Heat ½ cup oil in a large shallow pan over medium heat (test the oil temperature with a drop of water, if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough).
Dredge chicken in egg wash, shaking off any excess, then dredge in breadcrumbs. Fry in hot oil for 8-10 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
Strain the fennel through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the pickling liquid.
In a bowl, toss red onion, cucumber, fennel fronds, parsley, mint, and half the pickled fennel with 2-3 tablespoons pickling liquid. Store remaining pickled fennel in the pickling liquid in the refrigerator and reserve for another use (like a sandwich!). Season with salt to taste.
Serve the schnitzel with the salad and lemon wedges. Save pickling liquid in a jar or quart container for up to 2 months to use for pickling other vegetables or in salad dressings.