Next up is the Austro Tapas cookbook: basically classical Austrian dishes in small and handy versions. The added challenge, which Mick gave me, was to make it with breadcrumbs. Since they are very prominent in Austrian cuisine, I thought this was going to be easy. I could just pick some kind of Schnitzel, since it was going to be used for lunch, and do that in tiny. Boy, I was wrong.
For some weird reason there weren’t any Schnitzel dishes in it, and though some desserts had breadcrumbs on it – and battered mushrooms which isn’t much of a lunch in itself – there wasn’t much I could pick from. What I did find was a cheese cordon bleu, which I decided to use as inspiration. In general I felt that it was an Austrian (ish) cookbook where everything was just smaller. It feels a bit like the new cookbooks for the small pots – same thing but smaller. Not too inspiring. I think it works for desserts better though, where you can then prepare a range of smaller desserts. So I think I’ll have to come back to this cookbook for a dessert recipe, which then I shall follow a bit more…
But now onto what I ended up making:
Rustic Cordon Bleu
4 pork escalopes (you can use veal too which is the classical one, but pork is more flavourful)
Breadcrumbs (made out of dry white bread or bought if you can get decent ones)
4 big slices of cheese (something with lots of flavour, I used smoked cheese)
Slices of Smoked Bacon (not what you’d get as ‘bacon’ in the US or the UK. I mean proper smoked bacon. I used smoked garlic bacon.)
Half a Lemon
Red Wine Vinegar
Pumpkin Seed Oil
First up, tenderise the meat with a meat hammer. It needs to be properly beaten so the slices get a bit thinner. Then, depending on the size, you can use two Schnitzel or fold one up. Since I was making Tapas (ish) Cordon Bleu, I folded them. After hammering the meat was thin and larger, so it was still decent sized even in half.
Spread the bacon out on the meat, covering it up. Then the cheese in the middle. It shouldn’t be filled too thick, or it would just fall apart when you make the batter. A classical Cordon Bleu is made with ham and cheese, so you can vary the filling.
Fold the Cordon Bleu and use toothpicks to hold them together. Then hammer once more to get them a bit flatter. For the batter put flour in one bowl, two eggs mixed with salt on the second, and the breadcrumbs in the third. Use deep bowls if possible, as the flour and breadcrumbs may end up everywhere. How much you’ll end up needing, largely depends on the size of the Cordon Bleu. The same is true for Schnitzel, which you can also make following this recipe. Just don’t stuff anything in it.
First, the meat goes into the flour. Make sure it’s properly covered and shake the excess flour off. Next up is the egg-salt mix. Again, the whole Cordon Bleu should be covered. If you rub your hands in the flour before starting, you’ll avoid your fingers getting clogged up with eggy crumbs!
The last step of the batter is the breadcrumbs. Cover the Cordon Bleu completely, and apply some pressure to make sure the breadcrumbs stick to it. Make sure to cook them straight away; if you leave them lying around too long, the batter will end up coming off the meat. Once you press the whole thing a bit, the toothpicks can come out again.
Use a deep pan with about half a finger thick of oil. Wait until it’s sizzling hot – best checked with some loose breadcrumbs – and put the Cordon Bleus in. If the fat isn’t hot enough, it will just soak into the batter and leave it greasy. Bake it about 3 minutes on each side, until the batter is golden brown.
As a side dish I prepared a traditional green salad. The one I made is customary for the South of Austria. After washing the salad leaves, you put some salt, red wine vinegar and pumpkin seed oil on it. The latter is a speciality from my home region of Styria. It’s a very dark green thick oil, which can be used for many dishes but not as oil to fry food in.
All in all, the cookbook was a good inspiration, and like I initially said, I will probably try one of their desserts next. The Rustic Cordon Bleu though was fantastic. I usually have it with a sprinkle of lemon over the top of it. I should’ve used more cheese though – maybe two slices each or even goat cheese if I had managed to cut it thinly enough to get it in. I did enjoy it a lot though, the garlic bacon went very nicely with… well, really everything. I cannot believe I had never made Cordon Bleu before – I always thought it was more complicated than this!