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When traveling in Germany or Austria, I always make sure to have some Schnitzel. Most often it is offered using pork or veal. But those in the know- the jaegers (hunters) especially- using Hirsch (deer venison) is the real delicacy. If you are looking for a new twist on your venison tenderloins, try this great Jägerschnitzel recipe (Venison Schnitzel with Mushroom Gravy)

If you are not familiar with Schnitzel, it's made by pounding boneless chops very thin, breading them in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and frying them until perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. For an authenic Jägerschnitzel you’ll need a great mushroom gravy. For a family of four, here's what you need (all scaleable):

  • 2 pounds venison tenderloin

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs

1. Start by pounding your tenderloins to an even thickness of about 1/4 inch, then sprinkling it with some salt and pepper. The first key to achieving the perfect Schnitzel is to pound it very thin, no more than 1/4 inch thick. This is important because you’ll need to fry it at high heat for a short period of time to get that perfect crispy crust without leaving the middle of the meat raw. The easiest way to pound the pork is to lay it between two pieces of plastic wrap. Be sure to pound them using

the flat side of a meat mallet.

2. Next dredge the pieces in flour, followed by a lightly beaten egg and then the breadcrumbs. The next key to achieving the perfect Schnitzel? Don’t press the breadcrumbs into the meat. Just softly coat the meat on both sides and all edges, and then gently shake off any excess.

3. The next key is to immediately fry the Schnitzels. Don’t let them sit in coating or the end result won’t be as crispy. You don’t need a ton of oil, but you need enough so that the Schnitzels can “swim”. The final key is to make sure the oil is hot enough – but not too hot. It should be around 330ºF – test it with a candy thermometer. If it’s too hot, the crust will burn before the meat is done. If it isn’t hot enough, you’ll end up with a soggy coating. When the oil is hot enough it will actually penetrate the coating less and you’ll end up with a crispy “dry” coating instead of an overly oily one. The result will be a beautifully crispy coating with a tender and juicy interior, and that’s exactly what we want.

4. Fry on both sides for about 2-3 minutes or until a deep golden brown.

5. Remove the Schnitzel from the fry pan and place them briefly on a plate lined with paper towels.

6. Now for the gravy. There is no reason to resort to the packaged stuff- you;ve come this far.... and NOTHING beats homemade when it comes to mushroom gravy. Here's what you need:

  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease

  • 1 yellow onion ,finely chopped

  • 1 clove garlic ,minced

  • 16 ounces fresh mushrooms of choice (I use button mushrooms) ,cleaned and sliced

  • 1 tablespoon ground dried porcini mushrooms (if using dried porcini pieces grind them in a coffee/spice grinder or pound with a mallet in a ziplock bag)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups strong beef broth

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Optional: For a creamy gravy, add a few tablespoons of heavy cream at the end

1. Butter is a great option for sauteing the onions and mushrooms, but for even more flavor I use bacon grease. Melt the bacon grease in a pan over medium-high heat and fry the onions until beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Then cook the onions until they’re nicely golden brown. This is key to the flavor of the gravy.

2. Add the mushrooms and cook 7-8 minutes or until golden and the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated.

3. Add the ground porcini mushrooms and cook for another minute.

4. Add the butter and melt.

5. Add the flour, stir to combine and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring continually. This will cook off the flour flavor and brown the flour to create more depth of flavor in the gravy.

6. Add the beef broth, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk continually until the gravy is thickened.

7. Cover and simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes.

8. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you prefer the gravy thinner add a little water. If you’d like to make a creamy version of this brown mushroom gravy, simply stir in a few tablespoons of heavy cream at the end.

To serve, place the Jagerschnitzel on plates and ladle on the mushroom gravy- known as Jägersoße. Avoid completely drenching the Schnitzel with gravy so that the Schnitzel remains crispy. Garnish with some chopped fresh parsley if desired. Serve immediately with oven roasted or home fried potatoes or German potato salad, and a fresh leafy green salad or German Cucumber Salad. For a good wine pairing, depending on your preference, try a South African Cabernet Sauvignon, California Chardonnay or German Riesling. Enjoy the "fruits of the hunt"


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