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Season, To Taste

Every now and then, there is something deeply satisfying about returning to simplicity, especially the taste of simplicity.     My grandmother did not have complicated recipes, and did not use fancy ingredients – not that she had access to them either.   White truffle oil and chipotle peppers did not exactly abound in Brighton Beach sixty years ago.   There were no panko crumbs, let alone corn flake crumbs.  Like many cooks of her generation, what she lacked in sophisticated ingredients, she more than made up for in the ability to take basic items, season them well and cook with a yiddishe taam, a personal touch and flavor that was infused with love.  This kind of cooking had no measurements; it was completely dependent on feel and taste.  It did not require a cookbook, but rather an understanding of the food before you, and the attention and patience to see it done right.  Back then, this kind of instinctive cooking – of knowing how to bring out the best from what you’ve got – was the norm, not the exception.  It was passed on, mother to daughter.  The result: fresh, flavorful food, well-seasoned by a caring hand whose sole aim was to nourish and please.    Fast forward a generation or two and you’ve  got a lasting memory strong enough to make a grown man coo with delight at the thought of his grandmother’s fried breaded veal chops.  She served them aside mashed potatoes with schmaltz-fried onions and mushrooms (I said “flavorful,” I did not say low fat!).  Also sautéed spinach.  It probably ranks high on his “last meals” list.   “He,” of course, could be your everyman, an average Joe…or in this case, let’s just call him my husband.

Being a bit inquisitive (in the kitchen anyway), I started digging around for more information about this much adored recipe.  After hearing about it for so many years, I couldn’t help but wonder if they actually were as good as his memory led him to believe, or perhaps it was the last remnant of a tasty childhood time and place.   Perhaps like a fine wine, these chops were improving with age!  It was time for me to see for myself….it was time to taste the truth.   And then, it was time to see just how quickly I could polish off the succulent chop, having gnawed at the bone, leaving it nearly clean with hardly a crumb of crispy breading in sight.

To make such a dish is blissfully simple so long as you remember a few important points.  Namely,

1) Season liberally with salt and pepper (No, I can’t tell you how much.)

2) Invest your love and care into those chops.

3) Serve them straight, hot out of the pan.

4) Apply Rules 1-3 to all things in life.

Fried Breaded Veal Chops

Here’s how the recipe was told over to me (I’ve taken the liberty of including my “translations”)

First cut veal rib chops (one per person)

Kosher salt

Pepper (use freshly ground black pepper)

Beaten eggs (figure about 1 egg:2 chops)

Matzo meal (figure approximately ¼ cup per chop)

Oil for frying (canola or vegetable oil)

Season the chops with salt and pepper (or season the beaten eggs).    Dip chops in the eggs.  Then dredge in the matzo meal – try to get an even coating all over.  Fry until golden brown (Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan in a generous layer – at least ½ cup.  When oil is very hot – a drop of water sizzling upon contact – add the breaded veal chop.  Fry until deeply golden brown, turning once, about 8-10 minutes per side depending on thickness.  Transfer to plate lined with paper toweling to drain).  Serve immediately.

Naomi Ross and Park East Kosher Family
By Naomi Ross







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