Schnitzel is typically made with veal, pork or chicken, so it never even occurred to me to schnitzel up some venison until we went to Namibia where they have two things in abundance: wild game and German culinary influence.

Talky, talky, talky. Where’s the recipe?

While it’s pretty easy to make this taste delicious, there’s not much you can do to really take schnitzel over the top. But, do you know what’s extra awesome about using game for schnitzel? You can make it pink in the middle! Yes folks, that’s right: breaded and lightly fried medium rare meat. It’s pretty hard to screw this one up, but if you do screw it up it will be in one or both of two areas: pan temperature or tenderizing.

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Since wild game is so tough already, the tenderizing is a lengthy but oh-so-important process. If your steaks are more than an inch thick, I suggest slicing them in half lengthwise before tenderizing; otherwise you will be beating the crap out of the meat for a really long time. If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use the back of a heavy knife like we did. Also, I advise against making this the same day you do any kind of intense strength training in the arms. We don’t want any limbs falling off due to overuse.

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This, from left to right, is the order you want to dredge. Flour, egg, panko.

 

If you are planning on cooking the bejeezus out of these things, pan temperature is merely a suggestion. Just let it heat up on medium and kind of let the schnitzel sit there until it reaches your preferred color and crispness of crust on each side. For us the magic number was 3 minutes per side. If you want it pink in the middle, however, you want the heat to be a little higher than medium (maybe like at a 7) so the crust browns nicely before it cooks all the way through (probably closer to two minutes per side). It’s easier to achieve medium rareness if you keep the steaks thicker, but trust me; you want to beat those babies to a thin and tender ¼ inch so you and your guests don’t look like a bunch of cattle chewing their cud over dinner. I think if we weren’t using a young female elk (which is a little more tender by nature) our thicker steaks would have been way too chewy.

Don’t forget to enjoy this with a cold beer!

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Elk Schnitzel

Serves 8
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Region German

Ingredients

  • 2lb elk or other venison (round, shoulder or other tough steak)
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2-3 cups panko (or other bread crumbs (but panko is better))
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (ground)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 3 eggs (beaten)
  • 4-6 tablespoons vegetable, canola or peanut oil

Directions

Step 1
Tenderize your steaks with either a meat hammer or the backside of a very heavy knife. If you are using a knife be careful not to bounce it into your face. Beat each steak until it is about 1/4 inch thick. With about 2 pounds of meat this took us about 30 minutes.
Step 2
Put a large shallow pan on medium to medium-high heat so it's ready when you are. Add 2 T of oil.
Step 3
Combine flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper. This is your meat seasoning so don't skimp. You can salt and pepper each individual steak if it will help you gauge the right amount. Put the flour mixture, egg and panko each on a plate or in a shallow dish for dredging. You want to dredge in this order: flour, egg, panko.
Step 4
Dredge one steak in flour, then egg then panko and fry about 3 minutes per side, or until the crust is golden brown and crispy. You can dredge the next steak in the queue while you are waiting. When each steak is done remove to a paper towel.
Step 5
After you do about half of the steaks you will want to change out your oil so the steaks don't start to burn. Carefully pour out your hot oil, wipe with a paper towel and add a few fresh tablespoons of oil. We redid this twice, but probably could have managed with one oil change. Serve with noodles (spaetzle, if you feel so inclined) and beer and garnish with lemon wedges and capers.
Non-game substitution: Traditionally this is made with veal, but as I am against veal from a moral standpoint you can use a thinner, tougher cut of steak, pork, or even chicken.
Vegetarian substitution: There really isn’t a good veggie-friendly cutlet per se that I’d suggest here, but if you have a vegetarian in the mix you can get some Haloumi (sometimes labeled “grilling cheese”) and put it through the dredging and frying process before all the meats. I have found this at Sprouts or any store with a good specialty cheese section.

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2 Comments on "Elk Recipe: Schnitzel"

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Thomas Maupin

It’s the first Friday in Lent. I shouldn’t even be looking at these photos!

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