Monday, November 9, 2009

"Recipes of All Nations" - Pork chops kassel (German pork chops)

Date I made this recipe: November 8, 2009

Recipes of All Nations -[Recipes] Compiled & Edited by Countess Morphy
Published by: Wm. H. Wise & Company
© 1935
Recipe: Pork chops kassel (Kasseler Rippespeer) – p. 380

I recently read an article in the New York Times comparing the world’s reaction to 9/11, the day when planes hit the World Trade towers, and 11/9, the day the Berlin Wall fell, allowing East Germans to stream back into West Germany to be reunited with friends and family. (By the way, this year marks the 20th anniversary of that event—hard to believe). Whereas 9/11 had us gathered in our collective grief, 11/9 was the cause for much rejoicing. It was hard to conceive of planes hitting the trade towers but in some ways, it is harder still to contemplate how a group of people from the same country were separated by a wall dissecting the city of Berlin for almost 30 years.

When I was growing up, reports of people trying to escape from East Germany into West Germany abounded. Try to picture making a run for the Minnesota-Wisconsin border only to be felled by bullets – it’s beyond weird. Harriet Tubman and her (slave)Underground Railroad was the precursor to a vast underground movement to get people out of the east and back into the west. Several thousand people tried to escape; several hundred died in the attempt.

I also grew up watching the former East Germany (known then as GDR) spit out thousands of hulked athletes who used to blow the roof off the dump in the Olympics. I especially remember images of the East German women’s swim team – those women were built like…(well, you know) – but man, could they swim…and do gymnastics and every other sport under the sum. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time, the US got its butt kicked in sports but the GDR was nothing if not a powerhouse. After the wall fell, so did the old east’s athletic prowess. Sometimes, change is a good thing all around.

So in honor of the day that the wall fell down and East and West Germany started the road to reunification, I decided to cook a German meal and kids, it wasn’t easy. I don’t exactly have a keen interest in German food and so my selection was limited to one cookbook and only one cookbook and the recipes left a little to be desired. Need I tell you, reader, that I passed on making the eel soup? (Say it with me now: “Ewwwwwww”). If only eel season hadn’t just ended….

After a few hems and haws over what was left in the book (not much), I decided on making this pork chop recipe and it turned out to be a (surprise) hit. You can’t go wrong with making pork since it’s practically the national dish of Germany and it was easy and fast. (Since you know how much I obsess about the weather in this blog, this weekend was absolutely divine – temps in the 60’s and so who wanted to be inside cooking?).

By the way, my favorite local radio station, The Current (89.3 FM) played Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” in honor of the anniversary. That station is just way too cool.

Pork Chops Kassel– serving size not indicated. Note that the recipe doesn’t give specific measurements so this is my best attempt
4 pork chops (to serve 2 people)
1 apple, finely chopped
1 cup prunes, finely chopped
Butter and lots of it!
A splash of brandy (my suggestion and totally optional!)
2 eggs, separated
About 1 cup breadcrumbs

The cookbook says “There are different ways of preparing this dish, but this recipe has been chosen as being more typically German than the others.”

Chop the apples and prunes and sautee with about 3 tablespoons of butter (eyeball it) until they are cooked soft. Add a little lemon peel and/or a splash of brandy.

Flatten the pork chops so you can lay one on top of the other. I purchased two very thick boneless pork loin chops and split them in half with a very sharp knife. Spoon the apple/prune mixture into the middle.

Using a pastry brush, apply the egg yolk to the pork chops. Dip one side into the bread crumbs, then apply the yolk to the other, coat and place in a hot skilled into which you’ve loaded say…3-4 tablespoons of butter! Fry in the butter until done, about 5-10 minutes or so (check as you go).

The author suggests serving sauerkraut with this dish but my husband put his foot down and said if I made (i.e. opened a can or jar and heated) sauerkraut, I’d be eating it alone so I pulled some potatoes and onions from my pantry…and butter…and set about making fried potatoes. I have to admit that I’ve never fried a potato before (yes, I know, how did I make it this far?) but this was easy. I recommend partially cooking the potatoes (I did mine in the microwave for about 12 minutes) as well as the onions (I sliced them then microwaved them for about 4 minutes) before adding them to the fry pan to reduce cooking time. And voila, you have a perfect German meal!


~~louise~~ said...

I was going to celebrate the "tearing down of the wall" today if I had posted. I'm so glad you did. I think you have chosen the perfect dish for the occasion. I think the potatoes were a GREAT choice. I can't believe you have never fried potatoes before. I actually think that's kinda cool:)

Thanks for sharing...

aim said...

I found your blog searching for byerlys sour cream casserole which u mentioned in an earlier post. Any chance you've come across the recipe for it? My 2 yr old loves it, and i know i can make it for far less than what they charge....

Ann said...

aim--I thought I might be able to find the recipe for you since I have both Byerly's Cookbooks as well as several old issues of The Byerly Bag (their monthly newsletter) but alas, no. Each store also used to have a home economist who could research recipes but I think they have done away with that position. I'd try calling or emailing the corporate offices. (And if you find out, please share!).

aim said...

Thanks for checking! If Lunds will give me recipe I'll pass it on. I just have a feeling they'd rather I spend $10 a container for it :)