Vanilla Wine Braised Beef

I remember a long time ago, way back before I could even cook at all, that I really liked vanilla extract. Whenever I saw my mom take it out, I knew that something delicious was going to get baked. You know how some little kids love the smell of permanent markers? When she wasn’t looking I would sneak into the kitchen, open her spice cabinet and just smell the vanilla extract. I’ve always loved what vanilla can do to sweet treats, and now that I bake a lot myself I absolutely will not do without it.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I first saw savory applications of vanilla in recipes. I was intrigued and admittedly, a little unsure. I tried to envision what a savory vanilla dish would taste like, but couldn’t really get a grasp on it by thinking alone. The obvious concern is that it’s going to make the food taste too sweet, which then makes me nervous about wasting money on ingredients–if you bake with vanilla often, then you know it isn’t too cheap.

But y’know, as with most other things you’re afraid of trying, the best way to get over it is to just… try it out and see what happens. This was my first attempt to put vanilla into a savory dish, and I’m happy to say that it went pretty well.

It starts out with a spice rub that you’re going to let marinade on the meat overnight. It’s also got soy sauce (my go-to ingredient for just about ALL of my marinades by the way), and a splash of orange juice. After you sear the meat the next day, you put together the braising sauce that’s made of wine, tomatoes, and the vanilla extract. Don’t worry if it seems a little…’tomato-y’ at first. Once it gets time for the flavors to develop in the oven, they do balance out.

I think that this is a very, very good recipe to use for those of us who aren’t used to eating vanilla savory-style. It’s an easy braise with easy to find ingredients, and actually very little hands-on time. I paired this beef with the Sweet Potato Challah Buns I made a little while back and they made absolutely DELICIOUS sandwiches. Just saying.

Sharing this at this week’s Fiesta Friday #233.

********************************************

Vanilla Wine Braised Beef

Recipe Adapted from Nielsen Massey

Print

Ingredients

For Spice Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Seasoned salt and black pepper
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Soy Sauce
  • About 4 lbs of chuck roast, London broil, or tri-tip steak cut into large cubes

For Braise:

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 (28 fl. oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 fl. oz.) can tomato sauce
  • juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Seasoned Salt and pepper
  • A few dashes of soy sauce

Directions

Combine the dry spices together in a small bowl with a fork. Place the beef cubes into 2 freezer gallon size bags. Sprinkle soy sauce onto the surface of the beef and use your fingers to gently massage it in. Divide the spice mix evenly between the two bags. Seal the bags, then toss around until the meat is evenly coated. Place both bags into a bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven over high heat. Sear the meat on all sides, 1-2 minutes per side until browned. Keep the seared meat in a bowl covered with foil, as you may need to do this in batches so as not to crowd the pan.

Deglaze the pan with about 1 cup of broth, then add the onions. Saute until the bits are loose and the onions are softened, about 5-7 minutes, then add the garlic. Continue to cook until most of the liquid is cooked off and the garlic is fragrant. Temporarily remove from the heat.

In a small saucepan combine the wine, sugar and the vanilla. Whisk together over medium heat and allow to reduce by half. Remove from heat.

Pour the rest of the broth, the dice tomatoes, tomato sauce, reduced wine, orange zest/juice, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and the rest of the spices into the Dutch oven with the onions/garlic. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, allow to cook down for about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning (But flavors will also further develop while braising).

Place the beef cubes back into the Dutch oven, cover then braise in the oven for 2– 2 1/2 hours until beef is fork tender.

Sweet Potato Challah Buns

If you know me, then you know I love my kitchen gadgets. I’ll spend more time than I’m comfortable divulging on Williams Sonoma’s website browsing through things I know I don’t even need and will probably only use once or twice, still wishing I could just splurge and get all of it. And although there are kitchen gadgets that are unnecessary to everyday life, there are a few that I have that have become essential.

My bench scraper. My rolling pin. My vegetable peeler. My zester. All of my cookie stamps.

Where would I be without them? I don’t even want to know.

A kitchen gadget isn’t just a way to cut short on manual kitchen labor–depending on the object, it can have multiple uses that really help you step up your cooking/baking game in other ways. For example; quite a few of the cookie stamps I have were sold as gadgets for another purpose, like moon cake molds or pie crust and fondant stamps  or even biscuit cutters. I just decided to try them out on cookie dough and the results turned out to be really successful.

I went through a phase where I was addicted to apples–I’d eat one or two a day. Problem was, I didn’t like eating it whole bite by bite until I got to the core. I prefer eating apples in pieces, so I invested in an apple slicer. The slicer basically separates the bulk of the apple from the core, and cuts the whole apple into wedges for you. It was such a worthwhile buy, not just for those days I ate apples, but also the times I’ve baked apple pies and cakes and needed to be able to cut a lot of them at one time into even pieces.

And as it turns out, apple slicers aren’t just for cutting apples.

One day I saw a picture in a magazine of an apple slicer pressed into a piece of dough and it blew my mind. Okay, maybe not blew my mind, but it certainly did intrigue me as it hadn’t ever occurred to me to do that. Ever since, then every time I used my apple slicer I thought about using it myself to shape bread. The next time I made bread I decided to give it a shot–what’s the worst that could happen? At the end of the day, it’s still going to be delicious bread.

I wanted the structure of the bread itself to be sturdy enough to stand up to shaping, so I went with one of the sturdiest kinds of breads there is: challah. I then divided it up into individual portions that I pressed into rolls with the apple slicer. The dough is flavored with sweet potato, honey and orange zest; it’s a good combination of sweet and savory. The flavor actually improves over the course of a few days.  The overall shape of the rolls made by the apple slicer wasn’t perfect in uniformity; some of the rolls ‘bloomed’ with petals like flowers while baking, while others developed bubbles.  I’m okay with that, as I think they still look pretty good. They certainly taste that way.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #220, co-hosted this week by two of my faaaaaavorite peoples,  Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

**************************************************************

Sweet Potato Challah Buns

Recipe Adapted from The KitchenAid Blog

Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 whole egg plus 2 yolks
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 4-6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Egg wash (1 egg white plus 1 tablespoon water, beaten)
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Special Equipment, optional: Apple slicer

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or a large bowl), pour the water inside. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water, and sprinkle the sugar on top of the yeast. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until frothy and proofed.

Add the honey, melted butter, mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, salt, black pepper and zest. Use the paddle attachment (or a large wire whisk) to mix well.

Switch to the dough hook attachment and add 1 cup of flour at a time to the bowl. (Or you can use a wooden spoon). Knead it for 5-8 minutes in the bowl. You may not need to use it all, but the dough should be one homogenous mass that you can hold together, slightly smooth but it’s ok if it’s slightly sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Flour your hands, then knead with your hands for about 5 more minutes, using a firm push-pull motion until it is elastic and not sticky, adding more flour if needed. Grease the bowl, then place the dough inside. Cover it with plastic wrap & a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours. Punch it down, flip it over in the bowl, then recover it and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the dough from the bowl and let it come up to room temp. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour a clean work surface, then turn dough out onto it. Punch down to deflate air bubbles, then divide in half. Place one half back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap while you work with the other.

Divide the half piece of dough in half, then the half into fourths. Gently roll each fourth piece into a smooth ball of dough. Flour both the top of the ball & the blades of the apple slicer. Position the apple slicer over the ball and press down firmly, carefully removing from the bottom. Place the bun on the parchment paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap & damp kitchen towels and allow to proof until doubled in size 45-60 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg white and water. Brush over the proofed buns and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes in the oven. (Bread inner temp should be 195-200°F).

Cemitas Sandwich Buns

If you were to ask me for a valuable piece of advice when first starting out cooking, I’d try and boil it down to about three rules:

1 . Start with a basic dish with minimal ingredients and steps that won’t intimidate you. When I first started baking, my non-too-intelligent self decided my first dish was going to be my grandmother’s angel biscuits. Big mistake. It didn’t work for a number of reasons but first among them being that making biscuits is both science and an art form. It took me a while to get good at it. Later on after that first failure, I downsized to trying out easier recipes like quick breads and brownies–these are baked goods that are very difficult to mess up.

2.  Read the whole recipe before you start cooking. This one is so important that I’m thinking maybe I should’ve listed it first. I’ve been cooking an`d baking for several years now and this is still a rule that I have to remind myself of when making lengthy recipes like layer cake that have a lot of steps and ingredients. There’s nothing worse than getting started on a dish and getting to the fourth or fifth step and discovering that you’re missing something, or that you needed to spread it out over 2 days rather than try to make it all in one go.

3. Be patient–both with yourself and the food. Nobody starts out cooking like Bobby Flay or baking like Hedy Goldsmith. Even they have days where things go wrong in the kitchen. Give yourself room to mess up and learn from your mistakes. Also, let yourself get more comfortable with allowing the time for letting flavors develop. I’m not a huge fan of most 30 minute or less meals largely because in my opinion, unless you’re a veryveryVERY talented cook, spices simply need more than 30 minutes to infuse into food. It may be easier to put together in 30 minutes, but wouldn’t you rather it taste better?

Cemitas are a Mexican sandwich that come from Puebla. A piece of meat (such as beef, chicken or pork) is pounded thin, dredged in flour and breadcrumbs, then fried in oil in a skillet until golden brown and crispy. The meat is then layered with cheese, avocado, chipotles and tomato. It all gets placed a on a round sandwich bun that gets sprinkled with sesame seeds.

As it turns out, today’s recipe required me to fall back on all three of the basic rules I just gave. There are a minimal amount of ingredients involved with it and so far as bread recipes go, it’s one of the simplest you could make. Rules 2 and 3 come in for two reasons. First, it’s important that you read the entire recipe beforehand because the first rising runs much,much longer than the average time. I’m relieved that I took my own advice and looked ahead to see that the first rise lasts a whopping 4 hours. This seems excessive, but the dough needs enough time to more than double in size; more like, double and a half. Because it did require such a long rising time and we wanted to have these for dinner, I did wake up early to put the dough together and give it time to rise.

After that first rise, the dough is divided into smooth balls of dough and left to rise again for one more hour. They will then get a sprinkling of sesame seeds and go for a quick bake in the oven.

The buns rise with perfect domes and puff up HUGE in the oven, making them the perfect size for a slab of meat and all the fixings you want to pile on top of it. They’re soft and fluffy on the inside, yet sturdy enough to where you can create the sandwich of your dreams without having to worry about the bun being too flimsy to support the stuff inside.  Even if you’re a beginner when it comes to baking bread, I’d still say this was something you could try and expect to have good results–honestly, the hardest part is the wait. And these buns were WELL worth that 😉

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #206, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life

***********************************************************

Cemitas Sandwich Buns

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

Print

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2-3 cups all purpose flour
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Directions

In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over low heat on the stove until about 120-130°F. Sprinkle the yeast on top of heavy cream, and one tablespoon of the white sugar on top of the yeast. Allow to proof for about 10 minutes, until frothy.

In a small bowl, beat 2 of the eggs together lightly with a fork, set aside.

Combine the flour with the salt and mix together with a fork. Set aside.

Pour the heavy cream-yeast mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer, then pour in the beaten eggs. Mix together with the paddle attachment until just combined. Switch to the dough hook, then add the dry ingredients. Allow to knead for about 5-7 minutes. The dough will and should still be sticky, but if it’s not coming together in at least homogeneous mass, you can add more flour, about 1/3 cup at a time until it is one.

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. Place the dough inside, cover with a piece of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise in a warm place until grown 1  1/2 times larger, about 4 hours (yes, 4 hours, so plan ahead accordingly).

Sprinkle a work surface with flour, then turn dough out onto, it gently deflating air bubbles. Shape into a ball, then divide the ball in half. Divide each half into 3 pieces, giving you a total of six. Shape each piece into a smooth ball.

Lay a sheet of parchment paper onto a sheet pan, then place each bun seam side down onto the paper. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the stove.

In a small bowl beat remaining the egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush over the buns and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake until deep golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool on pan for about 60 seconds, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Guinness Shredded Beef Sandwiches

shredded-beef-sandwiches2

Well. Hi.

We don’t have to talk too much about what happened this week. It happened. To say I’m upset would be the understatement of the century. This is a terrible, embarrassing, and frankly shameful turn of events for my country. I won’t personally apologize for it (I voted for the right person for the job), but it still shouldn’t have happened. It should not be. I am both dismayed and terrified for the future of America and the many groups of people who had so much at stake in this election. The future as far as I can see, looks very bleak. Yet here we are.

(Don’t debate me in the comments section. Don’t tell me not to panic and that everything is somehow going to be ok. I’m an African American woman and what happened this week drastically & negatively affects my livelihood and the livelihood of millions of other Americans in my country. I’m not going to be PC about that. If you’re offended or take issue with any of the above, then you can feel free to unfollow this blog with all quickness. I legitimately could not care less.)

shredded-beef-sandwiches3

However, seeing as we’re all just here for the food anyway let’s focus on that far more pleasant subject instead.  After this week I’m in desperate need of a pick-up. A HUGE pick up.

Cooking is not just my sport, it’s one of my chief ways of practicing self-care; a way I can inject some peace & calm into my life when I’m stressed out. When I know that I’m cooking good food, it puts me in a good mood. Eating that good food then puts me in a great one.

shredded-beef-sandwiches4

Today’s recipe is one of those dishes that instantly put me into a better mood, just by existing. The best part about it is, it’s actually a pretty low maintenance & low effort meal, especially if you use a slow cooker.

You guys know that I’m usually a poultry girl. Chicken breast is my mainstay and the protein nine times out of ten, I’m gonna want. However, sometimes I get a craving and suddenly nothing but red meat will do it for me.

shredded-beef-sandwiches6

When I get a hankering for red meat, I don’t want a fancy steak. I’ve gotta have a sandwich. Either a big juicy burger, or…one of these. A ginormous shredded/pulled beef sandwich.

Guys, I just….looking at pictures of this is making me miss eating this thing already. It’s so good. What’s more, I’m going to go ahead and say that this another one of those recipes that is EXTREMELY difficult to mess up, even if cooking isn’t really your ‘thing’.

shredded-beef-sandwiches7

I’m really not fond of beer as a beverage. I think it tastes like piss would if I actually knew what piss tastes like-which I don’t, but y’know…moving on. However, taste-wise I’ve found that beer can it can do some pretty amazing things to a piece of meat and for those purposes, I use it often in my cooking. When combined with the other simple ingredients in the marinade, this makes for a savory, garlicky and juuuuust slightly tangy flavor that gets infused in the meat overnight, then is cooked in the slow cooker (or the oven if you don’t have or want to use one of those).

shredded-beef-sandwiches5

Pricking the meat all over before searing/cooking will make it more tender, so don’t skip that step. Going the low and slow route will make sure it isn’t tough and dry, so try not to rush this process by going “High” mode on the slow cooker or a higher temperature in the oven. Be patient. You’ll be rewarded for it in the end.

I made this recipe alongside the Fool-Proof Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions that I posted last week and built myself the sandwich of my dreams. When I tell you that it put a smile on my face…whew. I was a happy camper for dinner that night and you can bet your behind that every scrap of this delectable meat that you see here is long gone.

Do yourself a solid and make some of this. You’ll feel better. Promise.

I’m linking this post to Fiesta Friday #145.

**************************************************

Guinness Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Recipe by Jess@CookingIsMySport

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Guinness or other dark stout beer
  • 2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light molasses
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Beefy or regular onion soup envelope (Like Lipton’s)
  • About 4-5 lbs of either chuck roast, bottom round, rump roast, or London broil. You want a good braising cut; nothing too lean.
  • 1 medium sweet onion, roughly cut into thick slices or chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into large chunks or slices
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • About 1 tablespoon onion powder

 

Directions

Using a fork, prick the meat all over on both sides evenly.

In a medium bowl , whisk together the stout beer, soy sauce, , molasses, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, and onion soup. Set aside about 1 1/2 cups of the marinade for later use (refrigerate it).

Place the beef in a spill-proof gallon size plastic bag. Pour the remaining marinade over the beef and seal the bag. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Set a Dutch oven over high heat with a thin coating of vegetable oil in the bottom.  Spray the bottom of a slow cooker with cooking spray or place a slow cooker liner on the inside of it.

Remove the beef from the marinade then rub the salt, black pepper and onion powder over it. Then, place in the Dutch oven. Sear on both sides until it has a good browning , about 3-5 minutes per side.*

Place the roast in the slow cooker with the onion and green pepper sprinkled on both the top and bottom. Pour in enough of the reserved 1 1/2 cups marinade to come up halfway on the beef. Discard the rest.

Cover and cook on LOW for 10-12 hours.

Using a fork gently pull at the meat. It should fall apart and shred easily. Assemble onto sandwiches with Dijon mustard and pickles and other preferred toppings/condiments.

*If you do not have a slow cooker, or want to cut down on the cooking time, this recipe can also be done by roasting in the oven. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. After the beef has finished searing, add the onion and bell pepper to the Dutch oven, as well as the reserved marinade. You can also use regular beef broth; (enough to make sure it won’t dry out or burn). Cover and roast for about 5-6 hours.

Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

Chicken Parm Sandwiches8

I’m really not a huge fan of authentic Italian food.

I don’t like lasagna. I don’t like carbonara. I don’t care for the white heavy cream based sauces that can be found in a lot of Italian dishes at all. I’m not one for using lemon in savory applications. I’m actually not even a huge fan of cheese in general. If it weren’t for pizza, I could probably live without eating it entirely.

Chicken Parm Sandwiches1

My love for Italian food can basically be summed up in a plate of pasta (preferably spaghetti, rotini or ziti) and a mess of meaty marinara sauce dumped on top of it. If I’m feeling really “adventurous” there’ll be Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

And that just about does it.

Everything else I’m probably going to want to pass on.

Chicken Parm Sandwiches4

All of the above is what makes today’s recipe somewhat special.  I count it as me daring to be ‘adventurous’ and cook then eat something Italian that isn’t just pasta and meat sauce.

I needed to cook something that would last for the week but I didn’t really know what. I looked through the sale ads and didn’t seem any meat that was on sale except for pork chops and pork loin (neither of which I really felt like cooking or eating). So then, I went digging through my freezer to see if I’d bought any meat a while back then saved for later and just forgot about it.  Turns out, I had. I found two packs of chicken cutlets (chicken that’s thinly sliced and/or pounded thin by the butcher ahead of time).

Chicken Parm Sandwiches3

Most times meat that’s been prepared into cutlets is for the purpose of sandwich making. The protein is thinner, so it cooks relatively quickly and can fit on pieces of bread without much hassle. I’ve already made chicken schnitzel before on the blog with great results, but I wanted to make something new that I could post and share.  I’d also made shredded chicken into tacos just a couple weeks ago, so using the cutlets for that for that seemed kinda redundant.

Chicken Parm Sandwiches6

As a cook and eater with Southern roots, I’m of the opinion that it’s pretty tough to go wrong with chicken that you bread and fry, no matter what cuisine we’re talking about. Then, because a good red sauce is one part of Italian food that I like, I figured throwing them together couldn’t result in too shabby a meal. It also wouldn’t take a very long time to make, So for all those reasons, I decided to go ahead and make Chicken Parmesan for the first time, ever.

I really, REALLY liked the results.

Chicken Parm Sandwiches2

The best marinara sauce I’ve had to date is the one I made for my Pizza Hut-style breadsticks and Pan-Pizza that I made a while back on the blog, so that’s what I decided I would use for this recipe. I did a double batch because I love my sauce and wanted to have plenty to eat during the week for leftovers, but you can always cut it in half if you’re a less is more kind of a person.

Anytime you let chicken soak in an overnight buttermilk bath, you know that you’re going to have chicken that cooks up very moist and tender. I let mine chill for the whole 24, and once again I proved to myself that chicken breast haters are just doing their chicken breast wrong in how they treat it. The cutlets came out VERY moist and juicy on the inside. Chicken breading can sometimes run the risk of being bland and tasteless, but the method of including cheese with the actual breadcrumbs that the chicken is fried in gives it a GREAT flavor and texture. The crust came out perfectly crisp and golden when fresh and even when reheating the leftovers throughout the week, I found that I liked it even after it had gone soft.

Chicken Parm Sandwiches7

If you’re not a fan of Ciabatta bread, or you can’t find a grocery store or bakery in your area that carries it, that’s totally fine. Pepperidge Farm bread slices have also worked for me. I will say though, that for these sandwiches you want to use a bread that when toasted is big and sturdy enough to support the weight of the hot chicken and won’t get flat and soggy when you pile on the cheese and warm sauce. So please don’t sell yourself short; go for the good stuff.

The verdict is in and…Chicken Parmesan can sit with us. Finis.

Happy Fiesta Friday #132, co-hosted this week by Sandhya @ Indfused and Nancy @ Feasting With Friends.

******************************************************************

Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

Print

Ingredients

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 (15oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 tsp dry marjoram
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the Chicken:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk, divided
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 loaf crusty italian bread, crust removed, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 quart Tomato Sauce  (see above recipe)
  • 10 ounces shredded mozzarella or Italian blended cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, basil, or a mix
  • 1 loaf of Ciabatta bread or another sturdy crusty bread for sandwiches

Directions

Split chicken breasts in half horizontally. Working one piece at a time, place inside a plastic zipper-lock bag and pound with a meat pounder or the bottom of a skillet to an even 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and minced garlic to bowl. Season with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Turn chicken with hands until salt, pepper, and garlic are evenly incorporated and all the chicken is coated in buttermilk mixture. Transfer to a large zipper-lock bag, press out the air, and seal. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Meanwhile, place bread slices on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Leave out on counter for at least 4 hours and up to overnight until mostly dried.The next day, break bread into rough pieces (leave the wire rack in the rimmed baking sheet) and combine with 4 ounces Parmesan cheese in the food processor. Season with black pepper. Process until bread is finely ground, about 20 seconds. Transfer mixture to a large shallow bowl or pie plate.

Place flour in a second shallow bowl or pie plate. Whisk eggs, 2 tablespoons buttermilk, and 1 tablespoon of the flour in a third pie plate. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk over the breadcrumb/Parmesan mixture and incorporate with your fingertips. The mixture should be mealy, but hold together in clumps if you squeeze it together with your hands.

Working one piece of chicken at a time, remove from the bag and add to flour. Turn to coat, shake off excess, and add to egg mixture. Turn to coat, letting excess drip off, and add to breadcrumb mixture. Turn to coat, piling crumbs on top and pressing down firmly so a thick layer adheres. Transfer coated chicken to the wire rack and repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Adjust broiler rack to 8 inches below the heat source and preheat broiler to high. Place ciabatta cut-side-up on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Place under broiler and cook until well browned and crisp, about 2 minutes.

Transfer top bun to a large cutting board. Spread bottom bun with extra sauce and top with chicken cutlets, shingling them so they all fit in a single layer covering the bread (cutlets should already have sauce and some cheese on them). Top with more cheese. Return to broiler and cook until cheese is fully melted and starting to bubble and brown.

Remove from oven and immediately close sandwich, pressing down firmly to seal. Let rest for 1 minute. Slice into 6 to 8 single-serving pieces and serve. 

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwiches

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwiches4

Something I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on this blog before is that I enjoy musicals quite a bit.  I admittedly don’t have the Broadway cash to be able to get out and see the majority of the ‘newer’ ones that have come out- but when it comes to certain classics that have either been videotaped and sold or broadcast on PBS or, made into actual cinema movies, I’ve got quite a few favorites.

For me, the #1 spot permanently belongs to “Phantom the Opera” (by Lloyd Webber). I fell in love with it from that very first time I watched it/heard the music and no other  musical is ever going to take its place.

“My Fair Lady” is a very close second, though. I went through a phase where I kept the VHS of My Fair Lady semi-permanently set out next to my tv because I would watch it at least several times a week. To this day the song “On the Street Where You Live” is enough to always make me smile and pull me out of the worst moods.

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwiches2

“The Wiz”, “Chicago”, “The Slipper & the Rose”, “RENT”, “Carmen Jones”, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”, “Grease”, “Gigi”, “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Ain’t Misbehavin”, “Annie”, “Sweeney Todd”, “West Side Story”.

Love them all.

I could go on, but you get the picture, right? I really love musicals.

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwiches1

So, what do musicals have to do with today’s post?

There IS a connection, actually. You may have noticed that in my little list of favorite musicals, I left one out- possibly one of THE most well-known and popular musicals of all time.

Calling all theater nerds: which one did I leave out?

Yep. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music”.

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwiches6

If for nothing else, many people are familiar with The Sound of Music for the song “My Favorite Things” that (for some reason that I never have really understood) has become a song that’s sung here in America at Christmastime.

I have only, ever, and always thought about one thing when I hear(d) the word ‘schnitzel’.

Just one thing, period.

Maria von Trapp-the main character who sings the song “My Favorite Things”.  I kinda knew about schnitzel with noodles before I even knew just what the heck schnitzel was. I knew it was probably some kind of meat since it was being eaten ‘with’ noodles, but besides that- not a clue.

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwiches3

Eventually when I became a foodie and started cooking I found out what it was, but still wasn’t very interested in it. It was one of those foods I saw come out around October for Oktoberfest with a bunch of other German/Austrian foods. And for some reason, there’s a restaurant in my area that has a schnitzel special come out around St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not typically a huge fan of German food so I never had much of a reason to try schnitzel, whether it was made by me or someone else.

Recently, I was thumbing through an issue of Food Network Magazine and I came across a recipe for Pretzel Rolls that really stuck out to me-enough so that I decided to go ahead and try it out for myself. It was a marvelous success, and the subject of my last blog post. Directly opposite the pretzels rolls in the magazine was a recipe for Schnitzel Sandwiches that they suggested you pair with the rolls.

Well lemme tell you guys, the schnitzel in the magazine looked SO tasty alongside those pretzel rolls that I just couldn’t resist following that recommendation. I went to the store and bought myself chicken and decided to give it a try for myself.

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwiches5

And now, I really do understand why schnitzel made the list of Maria’s favorite things. I SO get it now.

If you buy meat that’s already been pounded thin for you, then this dish is actually really easy and relatively quick. The seasonings are also pretty simple, but they yield such wonderful results. The coating fried up SO golden brown and crisp, and it stayed on like glue even while frying (I’m pretty sure it was because of the chilling given to the cutlets before they get to the pan, so I wouldn’t skip that step if I were you.) I ate my chicken on a golden brown pretzel roll just like the recipe suggested, served alongside some potato chips sprinkled with malt vinegar.

SO GOOD, y’all.

Heck, even when I was eating the leftovers (after the crispiness had left the coating for obvious reasons) I STILL thought this dish was awesome. So awesome, that I’m bringing it to this week’s Fiesta Friday #91, co-hosted this week by  Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You WashI’m pretty sure I’ll make all of us schnitzel-lover converts by the time the party’s over 😉

****************************************************************************************

Chicken Schnitzel Sandwiches


Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • kosher salt & black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds, poppy seeds, fennel seeds or combination of the three
  • 8 chicken cutlets
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 8 pretzels rolls (see recipe)

Directions

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs and milk in another shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Combine the breadcrumbs and seeds in a third dish; season with salt and pepper.

Lightly dredge each cutlet in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing to coat both sides.

Arrange the cutlets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour. (It helps the coating stick to the meat)

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the cutlets until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per side, sprinkling with the parsley during the last minute of cooking. Remove to a rack or paper-towel lined plate to drain. Season with salt.

Sandwich the schnitzels on the pretzels rolls (you may need to cut the bigger pieces of meat.) Top with pickles, red onion, lettuce and/or mustard.

Curried Chicken Sandwiches

Curried Chickeen Sandwich3

I’m always a little wary going through a drive through or a sit down restaurant and ordering a sandwich. Why? Because I know that unless I’m able to be standing right there and watching them make my food, there’s a pretty good chance that someone working there is going to get my order wrong. And fewer things tick me off more than someone making a sandwich for me that is made ‘wrong’.

I’ve always been pretty picky when it comes to my sandwiches guys- I’m not like most people.

Curried Chickeen Sandwich4

In the first  place, I absolutely can’t stand mayo or miracle whip. Never have, never will. To this day, I don’t know how people eat that stuff. The smell alone triggers my gag reflex, which is why I make a special point of requesting it left off any sandwich I get anywhere. In the past I’ve received sandwiches where they put the mayo or miracle whip on anyway. Regardless of the fact that I could have scraped it off, regardless of how much I paid for the food- if they put mayo or miracle whip on it, I WILL throw it out completely. No amount of scraping off can get rid of the smell or the slight, tangy after taste. Just thinking about it is grossing me out, so I’m moving on.

Curried Chickeen Sandwich6

Another pet peeve of mine is when businesses lay on the condiments that I do like too thick, like oil and vinegar. I understand you want me to taste it, but gol-ly: the bread should not be soaking wet by the time I get back so that it literally ‘squishes’ when I take a bite. That’s gross. My favorite deli place never fails to do this to me so I’ve learned to just leave off any wet condiments at all when ordering and just waiting until I get home to sprinkle my own vinegar on it just the way that I like it.

I usually have to repeat myself in asking for ‘no cheese’ on a sandwich too- it catches a lot of people off guard. Apparently cheese on sandwiches is a pretty popular thing.

I hate those huge tomatoes. Don’t try to put one on my sandwich. I will throw you major shade.

Curried Chickeen Sandwich1

Come to think of it, usually the only things that I order on most sandwiches is just the meat, lettuce, and MAYBE a few veggies. It’s weird I know, but that’s just how I roll. Having said all that, this recipe may seem to be missing quite a few key components that most people would put on a sandwich. That’s only because it’s made the way that I would like it- don’t take it personally. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what the right kind of cheese would work well with a chicken curry sandwich so I didn’t try. I didn’t include a recipe for a yogurt raita or a mayonnaise based condiment; I’m not a fan of either. I’m giving you guys a sandwich with the bread meat, lettuce, onion and roasted red pepper because that’s exactly how I ate this thing. And to me, that was pretty darn perfect all on it’s own.

Curried Chickeen Sandwich2

However, feel free to add cheese, tomato, raita, mayonnaise to your heart’s content if that’s your thing. I’ll just be over here with my plain sandwich.

Broiled chicken is really underrated. It can take the plain, ordinary chicken breast and elevate it to the level that it really deserves giving that flavorful, dark char on the outside that looks and tastes really good. So instead of grilling the meat like Bon Appetit did, I broiled it in my oven.  It made the cook time super quick and easy, with wonderful results. The chicken was moist and flavorful from the overnight buttermilk brine that really packed a punch.

(Me and the grill still don’t get along in case you were wondering. )

I’ll be taking these sandwiches to the Fiesta Friday #61 party hosted by Angie and co-hosted this week by  Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @La Petite Casserole. See you guys there!

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

Curried Chicken Sandwiches


Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit.com

Print

Ingredients

Curry Brine

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Sandwiches

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), halved horizontally
  • 1/4 recipe Curry Brine
  • 4 large or 8 small slices country-style bread
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce

 Directions

1. For Curry Brine: combine the buttermilk, kosher salt, black pepper, curry powder, cumin, turmeric.

2. Add chicken and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.

3. Preheat broiler and spray broiler pan with non stick cooking spray.

4. Broil chicken until golden brown and slightly charred and juices run clear. (Inner temp of chicken should reach 160°-165°)

5. Layer bread with chicken, onion, red pepper and lettuce. Serve.