Yael’s Chicken Schnitzel

By Hayley White

Reading time: 6 minutes

Yael Shochel is the chef and owner of the Middle Eastern restaurant Ima Cuisine in Auckland City, and has been cooking since childhood. She grew up in Israel cooking with her mother who she says is as an excellent and creative chef. In the 60s and 70s, at a time when most people only had the Edmonds or Betty Crocker recipes, Yael’s mother had an entire shelf of other cookbooks, too. Yael grew up like all Israeli children - eating schnitzel at least twice a week.

“There is not a house in Israel that does not cook schnitzel,” she tells me. Yael says it’s the crumb mixture of cornflakes, rice crispies, and ready salted chips that make it such a fast favourite. Even her neighbour’s child was a fussy eater who would not eat anything, yet he couldn’t get enough of Yael’s chicken schnitzel. “It’s all in the crumb,” she insists.

“When my middle child was little, she had some learning disabilities. When you’ve got a kid who has got some problems, everyone has an idea. Maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that,

By Hayley White

Reading time: 6 minutes

Yael Shochel is the chef and owner of the Middle Eastern restaurant Ima Cuisine in Auckland City, and has been cooking since childhood. She grew up in Israel cooking with her mother who she says is as an excellent and creative chef. In the 60s and 70s, at a time when most people only had the Edmonds or Betty Crocker recipes, Yael’s mother had an entire shelf of other cookbooks, too. Yael grew up like all Israeli children – eating schnitzel at least twice a week.

“There is not a house in Israel that does not cook schnitzel,” she tells me. Yael says it’s the crumb mixture of cornflakes, rice crispies, and ready salted chips that make it such a fast favourite. Even her neighbour’s child was a fussy eater who would not eat anything, yet he couldn’t get enough of Yael’s chicken schnitzel. “It’s all in the crumb,” she insists.

“When my middle child was little, she had some learning disabilities. When you’ve got a kid who has got some problems, everyone has an idea. Maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that, and there was a point where someone said gluten goes to the brain membrane. It’s such bulls..t,” Yael whispers.

“I couldn’t use breadcrumbs, so I thought ‘I need to sort this problem out’. I’ve got to make this crumb gluten-free, and it’s got to be tasty so it’s irresistible to children!” she says.

“When [my middle child] was three it was Thanksgiving and Blue’s Clues was on TV. We were ready to go out and as we stood in front of the TV, [the actor] turns to the camera and says: ‘What are you thankful for?’ And I turn to her and ask her: ‘What are you grateful for?’ And she says ‘schnitzel’ because that’s something at dinner that she can eat,” Yael laughs. “So, if you’ve got family, get out some schnitzel, and you can make it!” she exclaims.

Yael offers to make me her chicken schnitzel, but as I’m vegetarian, I refuse. “The schnitzel crumb I now do as a vegetarian main with cauliflower instead of chicken, is very nice too!” she insists. “You just cut cauliflower into slices, and put some rice flour on it. Dip it in egg, and then my crumb mix.” She suggests tofu can also be used as a substitute for the chicken.

I recently tried the recipe (with the cauliflower substitute) and I must say that the crumb is superb! So, this is definitely one to keep under your belt as it might quickly become a household favourite.

 

Chicken Schnitzel
Photo: Yael Shochel

Yael’s Chicken Schnitzel

RECIPE

 

Ingredients:

500-600g boneless chicken breast
¼ cup plain flour (or rice flour, to make the recipe gluten-free)
2 eggs
2 heaped Tbsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
300g ready salted ripple cut potato chips (2 packets)
500g cornflakes
460g puffed rice cereal
½ cup sesame seeds
75ml extra virgin olive oil
75g butter

 

Method:

  • Slice the chicken breasts into flat wide pieces no more than 1cm thick. If needed, you can beat the slices with a mallet or the side of a heavy knife to flatten them evenly.
  • Set out three shallow bowls. Into the first, place the flour. Into the second, place the eggs, mustard and salt, and beat well with a fork.
  • Process the chips and cereals in a food processor to the texture of breadcrumbs and mix with the sesame seeds in the third bowl.
  • Set out a plate to hold the crumbed chicken.
  • Dip a chicken piece first into the flour, then the egg mixture, and then the crumbs, ensuring it is fully coated on both sides with each layer – especially with a good layer of crumbs (you may need to pat the crumbs with your fingers to ensure they stick on). To keep your hands from getting too messy, you can use one hand only for touching the raw, floured, and crumbed chicken, and use the other hand only to touch the chicken when it’s eggy. Put the crumbed chicken on the plate and coat the remaining pieces before you begin cooking.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a large heavy frying pan or pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 175°C, or until a small piece of crumb mixture sizzles immediately. Fry the schnitzel pieces a few at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan, until dark golden on both sides.
  • Drain cooked schnitzel on a paper towel-lined plate and serve immediately. If needed you can keep the cooked pieces on a rack in a warm oven for 15 minutes to allow time to cook the additional pieces and serve them all together.

 

To make ahead:

Crumbed chicken pieces can be frozen, separated by baking paper or plastic wrap and tightly wrapped, for up to one month. Fry from frozen using the directions above.

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