Jägerschnitzel is one of Germany’s best known dishes. Also spelled jaegerschnitzel, it means “hunter’s cutlets,” meat pounded thin and served with a mushroom sauce. Easy to make, and a great way to celebrate a successful hunt.
Back in the 1800s, jägerschnitzel was originally made with venison or wild boar loin, pounded thin.
It is now normally made with pork, and the Texas specialty chicken-fried steak is believed to be an outgrowth of this dish, brought to the USA by German immigrants.
Jägerschnitzel, at its core, is a thin cutlet of meat served with a mushroom gravy. Potatoes — boiled, mashed or in a salad — are a traditional side dish. It is a manly meal, and the only green thing allowed is, occasionally, parsley or chervil.
This is an ideal venison backstrap recipe, but it will be just as great with wild boar or bear loin medallions, wild duck breast, goose breast — and venison heart. Yes, venison heart. You open up the heart like a book and trim away any vein-y stuff, then pound the heart thin the same way you would with any other meat. It is absolutely delicious. Try it sometime. You’ll thank me later.
Traditionally you would not flour or bread a cutlet for jägerschnitzel, but sometimes I like a light coating of flour. Do not bread it, though. That’s wiener schnitzel, or milanese. Both are good, just different.
What mushrooms to use? Historically jägerschnitzel uses regular button mushrooms and/or chanterelles. I say use anything you want, but use a variety of mushrooms. I like those “chef’s sampler” packs you can get in the store.
Incidentally, there are lots of varieties of schnitzel. Here is my recipe for wiener schnitzel, another classic I often do with pheasant breasts, but veal, pork or other light meats would work well, too. I also have a dove schnitzel recipe, as well as a turkey schnitzel recipe.
- 1 pound venison or wild boar medallions (see above)
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup bacon fat, lard or butter, divided
- Flour for dusting (optional)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup venison stock (or duck or beef stock)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons cream
- Black pepper to taste
- Place the meat between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Do this firmly, but don't wail on the meat or you will tear it. Trim the cutlets to an even shape if you want.
- Set a large sauté pan over high heat for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms to the hot, dry pan. Shake them around so they don’t stick too much and cook the mushrooms until they give up their water, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and onions and stir-fry everything until the onions begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and onions and set aside.
- Dust the cutlets in flour if you want to. Add the remaining bacon fat to the sauté pan and let it heat up over medium-high heat. Do not let it smoke. Sear the cutlets for 90 seconds on the first side. Keep them from curling up with a spatula or bacon press. Flip the cutlets and sear another 90 seconds for medium doneness. Remove the cutlets to a plate. (If you have a lot of them, set the plate in the oven and set it to "warm.")
- Add the 2 tablespoons flour and mix with the fat in the pan. Turn the heat to medium and let the flour-and-fat mixture cook until it is the color of coffee-with-cream. Slowly pour in the stock, plus any juices that have come off the cutlets while they rest. You should have a thick gravy. If it is thin, let this boil down a minute or two. If it is really thick, turn off the heat, wait for the sauce to stop bubbling and stir in the cream. Add the mushrooms and onions back to the pan and toss to coat in the sauce. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Pour this over the cutlets and serve at once.