Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Holstein Schnitzel

I continue to be deeply troubled by meat-eating. It never used to be a thing with me. I laughed at vegetarians - a lot. Silly people. Silly, silly. But in the last few years it's crept up on me, this horror of meat - accelerated by the arrival of my child, I'm sure (although having a baby hasn't made me a nicer person in any other regard; HM Revenue & Customs officials, John Lewis nursery department floor salesmen, Barclays Bank telephone banking jessies and National Health Service receptionists London-wide will attest).

What keeps coming back to me, again and again, is a bit in the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. There are these horrible aliens, the name of which now escapes me, who live on a planet with these gorgeous sort of deer-creatures with shining eyes and angelic temperaments and have antlers made out of fine filigree - or something. And the horrible aliens treat these deer-creatures abysmally and kill them for meat and ride them until their backs break and eat their children and so on.

That's me - that's us. It's only really just occurred to me that that was the moral of the story. We are the disgusting aliens. And sometimes when I hear people talking about how they are going to cook meat I feel as revolted and perverted as if I'm listening to a conversation about how to cook and eat children, or people. How can you salivate over the cooking of a dead creature! It's so terrible! Isn't it? Isn't it awful? And wrong?

But I don't want to stop eating meat, because it's too complicated. My reasons are too pathetic. And I never, ever eat meat that hasn't had a better life than mine. I spend an extortionate amount of money on quality meat and I dress myself in rags. Does that make it alright? I just don't know.

Anyway, sorry. I'm sure a lot of you think this sort of soul-searching is boring and stupid. It's just taken me entirely by surprise. I just didn't think I was that kind of person.

Nothing troubles me more than veal, except lamb. And chickens I suppose. Buck buck buck! It's all awful. But we purchsed some (rose) veal escalopes from the farmer's market the other day from the Twelve Green Acres farm stand, which is a small organic farm in Dorset. http://www.12greenacres.co.uk/

We spend so much money there that the bloke practically breaks into a jig when we slope up, requesting this week's happiest and most indulged creature that died of natural causes for us to worship for a while before cooking ritually and eating while murmuring prayers.

Inspired by a recent trip to The Delauney, London's latest swankhole from Jeremy King and Chris Corbin (The Wolseley, The Ivy etc) we made veal schnitzel Holstein. Have I got that right? It's breaded veal escalope with a fried egg on top.

It goes like this.

2 veal escalopes (must cost at least £4bn each)
medium matzoh meal YOU CAN GET IT FROM WAITROSE but don't get one that is kosher for passover, which is swilling about at this time of year, because it is considerably more expensive than the normal stuff and you will be needing to watch your pennies having bought your veal
seasoned flour
oil for frying
4 eggs

1 Set out three bowls, one with seasoned flour - and by this I mean heavily seasoned, three big pinches of salt, twelve turns of the pepper mill - one with the matzoh meal and one with two beaten eggs. Season the matzoh as well for good measure.

2 Dip the escalopes once in the flour, then in the egg and then in the matzoh. Set aside - I find I cake cooling rack most effective.

3 Heat up a lot of veg oil in a pan - about 1/2 a cm deep - preferably one that comes with a lid, until it is hot (but not smoking and going crazy) and fry the escalopes quickly, really just 2 minutes each side or less. Keep the lid hovering over the pan to stop your kitchen from smelling like the floor of a kebab van.

4 For the perfect fried egg, crack in the egg off the heat and fry gently - the egg ought never to pop or spit. Just as the edges of the egg look done, hover the lid again over the eggs so the steam cooks the top - that way you get a cooked albumen without having to flip the egg with yolk-breaking anxiety.

We ate it with broccoli. And a side order of GUILT.


  1. Far from being boring and stupid, I predict your post will elicit many other admissions of soul-searching...including mine. Personally, I feel it's fine to eat meat, as long as you do think and care and fret about its provenance – exactly as you are doing – to put pressure on producers to rear and slaughter animals humanely.

  2. Lovely! We just had pork schnitzel, because you can't buy veal in Hertfordshire off the cuff and you have to order it weeks in advance which I CANNOT be arsed to do. I love making schnitzel though because a) it means I can take out that day's frustrations on said slab of meat using my scary two ton meat tenderiser and b) you end up with massive breadcrumbed schnitzel zombie hands to scare children with before coming to your senses and washing the hell out of said hands because ARRGH raw meat, help.

  3. I have a feeling that if I ever let myself really think about it, I'll have to become a vegetarian.

    That's why I decided not to watch "Our Food" the other day. I felt like it would make me think about it too much. Interfere with my "La, la la, I'm not thinking about it." approach to meat eating.

  4. I was vegetarian for about 5 years when I lived in the US then when I moved back to Britain I stopped....it's too bloody hard there. It's meat and 2 veg everywhere. I have occasional bouts of guilt too now when I get linked to a Peta video but...I'm too weak to give it up entirely. Like you say we must just buy free range and organic and pray for forgiveness.

  5. I console myself that if we didn't eat fluffy animals all their habitat would be taken over by crop growers anyway ... whatever, if God didn't want us to eat animals he wouldn't have made them out of meat.
    I have noticed that Escalope Holstein is making a big comeback, but I'm also sure the original involves anchovies, capers and butter too ...... at least that's what happened when I first had it donkey's years back at the Baron of Beef in the City (now sadly gorn, but not forgotten)

  6. I agree with the above. I'm a vegetarian trapped in a meat eater's world. My reasons for being a meatie rather than a veggie revolve around most vegetarian menu options being crap, and disliking how bland vegetable stock is compared to chicken stock. Organic and Free Range is the best compromise - and eating less meat at home I suppose.

  7. Vogons are the blighters you were after (reread the entire series recently). There were jewelled tortoises involved too. Anyway, I'm not just commenting so I can pretend to be clever (I wouldn't fool anyone) but to sympathise too. I'm actually coming from the other direction; vegetarian from the age-when-everyone-becomes-vegetarian-don't-they? (14) until (ahem) now, I have recently started to eat some meat because I consider that a small amount of meat fits in to an ethical diet better than most of the alternatives which have other consequences (dairy calves, pesticides, imports from countries who ought to be growing their own food, not ours). I don't think I've got the right answer yet, and I'm not even sure if there is one, but if it helps, your attitude sounds fine to me (and you're very funny, too).

  8. Sadly I became seriously anaemic after I hit 40 and won't be able to consider vegetarianism until I'm well into my 60s at the pathetic rate of recovery.
    I agree that eating veal is a particuarly conflicted issue but it is the most easily digested meat I have encountered. And its iron seems to be the most easily absorbed.
    So eat up. It's good for you.

  9. I'm in a similar predicament over meat-eating. For now, I assuage my guilt by not purchasing meat. I don't cook it at home and only rarely order it in restaurants. I do eat it if someone's made it for me, like the lovely roasts I get when I visit my parents, but I haven't had meat in my own flat in a couple of years. Which is tough, because bacon is delicious, but it does ease my fretting over the treatment of animals (and as a law student, I just don't have the money for meat that's lived a life of luxury).

  10. I don't eat much meat but when I do it's always free range organic meat. I love doing this recipe with chicken as the kids are picky about their meat. It's lovely!

  11. I tend to agree with you, but I don't think I take it quite as far as you have! I can't imagine giving up meat completely, but I do insist on ethical meat. If I can't afford something that's had a decent quality of life, I don't eat it.

  12. I love a veal Holstein and used to eat them a lot from what I remember, always with some capers & anchovies alongside the egg. Absolutely delicious.
    A much underrated meat, Rose veal. Love it.

  13. The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy broke me. I have been a vegetarian ever since I read it when I was 17.