Picnic Food – Potato Salad & Mini Schnitzel
Reading other people’s blogs, it seems it’s the same thing the world over – at least in the Northern hemisphere: winter refused to leave for what seemed like an eternity, then spring made an appearance for a few days, and now summer has arrived. Temperatures have rocketed, and finally it feels justified to cook summery stuff.
Although one wouldn’t normally define Wiener Schnitzel as summery, I thought that this mini version, paired with my godmother’s potato salad would make great picnic food. There are many different variations on potato salad here in Germany. A little further up north they put in cucumbers – unacceptable! – and even further north they add mayonnaise – also unacceptable! At least to a Swabian. We like our potato salad pure.
My aunt’s version is really very simple, and even though everyone in our family makes it according to her recipe, it never tastes exactly the same as hers. She swears there is no secret ingredient she hasn’t told us about, so we don’t know why that is. For my birthday this year, I made this potato salad under her surveillance, and it did come really close to hers. Although there is no secret ingredient, she has a secret weapon – Maggi. I don’t know if all of you know Maggi, it’s a liquid spice that’s reminiscent of lovage, although there doesn’t seem to be any in it. I don’t know anyone else outside our family who uses it in potato salad, so whenever I have potato salad anywhere else, I hope they have a bottle of Maggi around.
Schnitzel is something you’ll find on almost every menu when you eat out in Germany. There are tons of variations on that, too, but the idea for this mini version also came from my godmother. Her daughter makes these for her children using pork filet, and as that is my favourite kind of meat, I loved that idea.
A note on the ingredients for the potato salad – over here we have potatoes that are labeled salad potatoes. For my version I’ve used Annabelle potatoes, which I’m told are great for potato salad.
One of the important things here is the vinegar – under no circumstances can you use balsamic vinegar! That will ruin it. We use what I’d say are bog-standard vinegars. If you live in the UK, you could use malt vinegar. It’s good to use a better quality olive oil, though.
Potato salad dressing can be made with vegetable stock, but to my surprise my godmother uses plain water.
I used red onions because I forgot to buy white ones.
Potato Salad & Mini Schnitzel
1 kg salad potatoes
1 large or 2 small white onions, chopped
(a good) olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Clean potatoes and cook – unpeeled! – in salted water for about 30 minutes. Check the core by piercing with a skewer or fork to see if they’re done. Large potatoes should be cut in half for cooking.
Drain potatoes and peel them right away. They’ll be really hot, but this is important to get the peel off properly. [It’s best to use a short knife with a sharp point, and to hold both the potatoes and the knife under cold running water in between peeling.]
Cut potatoes into slices – about 3 mm thick – and place in a serving bowl. [Most of them will crumble, but that’s perfectly alright.] Add the chopped onions, vinegar, a little water, salt, freshly ground pepper, and lots of olive oil. Add the Maggi last, then mix well.
The potatoes will absorb the liquids pretty quickly, and it will look dry. When that happens, add a little more water, vinegar, and more olive oil. The potatoes should have a shine from the oil, but they should not swim in dressing.
pork filet (tenderloin)
freshly ground black pepper
lemon to serve
Prepare three deep-ish plates: pour flour into the first one, break eggs into the second one, add salt and pepper, then whisk well. Pour fine breadcrumbs into the third plate. [A tip: it makes it easier to arrange the plates as follows next to your oven: oven – 3rd plate – 2nd plate – 1st plate – meat. This way you take your meat from one station to the next until it ends up in your pan on the oven.]
Wash and dry the pork filet and cut into slices, about 1 cm thick and flatten it a little with a broad knife. Heat butter in a frying pan (or a combination of butter and olive oil). Coat each piece of pork in flour, egg, then breadcrumbs, and add to the frying pan. Fry until crispy and nicely browned. Take out of the pan and place on a piece of kitchen towel to absorb the excess fat. Serve with lemon slices, and squeeze lemon juice over schnitzel.
Pack everything into your picnic basket and have a great time!