It’s easy to look to the Thermomix for only the tough jobs—those times when it cooks, whirrs, steams, and pulverises. It’s also easy to forget there are times when it’s useful for nothing more than superior food-processing, a fact I was reminded of recently when one of Melbourne’s outstanding cooking teachers told me she used her TM31 only for that purpose. “I’m too old to learn new tricks,” she said. That, in itself, was a reminder that the Thermomix is very much a case of teaching old dogs new tricks.
That said, it’s also worth reminding ourselves that any kitchen machine—whether Thermomix, microwave, sous vide—is only a member of a big team, not always the brightest star in the galaxy.
So, to the Thermomix as food processor: most weeks in my house, we’re left with remnants of loaves of bread, which is no bad thing, as the Thermomix can turn any brick of bread into wonderfully textured bread crumbs in a jiffy. The question is, what to do with them, knowing that it’s not every day that we make meat loafs or meatballs or hamburgers, with the crumbs essential to lightening the mix. Which brings me to the point of all this: when making a classic chicken snitzel, what comes first, the chicken or the breadcrumbs? The answer is, it’s a team thing, but the crusty crumbs are what really make this dish sing.
For the fun of it, and to change the pace of this newsletter a little, I created a picture recipe of a classic chicken snitzel, from go to whoa. It makes be hungry looking at it, and it was a great reminder that even champions—of sport and of kitchens—don’t always have to kick the winning goal. In this case, the Thermomix did its bit, as all good team players should.
- 4 chicken breasts (or for your needs: the limit is how many pans you have and how much space on the cooktop!)
- 60 grams stale bread, cut into chunks
- Salt, black pepper
- 50 grams milk
- 1 egg
- a handful of flour to dredge
- Vegetable oil
- Slices of mozzarella or melting cheese.
- Finely chopped herbs
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
- Slice the chicken breast through the middle, without completing the cut. Flatten and pound with the back of a heavy knife or kitchen mallet. (1)
- Whizz the breadcrumbs 15 seconds/speed 10 or until a coarse crumb is achieved. Season with salt and black pepper. (2)
- Beat the egg with the milk.
- Set up a series of plates, one with the flour, one with the egg wash, one with the breadcrumbs. (3)
- Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, dip in the egg wash, (4) then the breadcrumbs. The crumbs will adhere to the chicken. (5)
- In a heavy-based pan that can go into the oven, add the vegetable oil to a depth of about a centimetre. Heat the oil for a minute or two, and test its heat by dropping in a bread crumb or two. When the crumbs sizzle, the oil has reached the right temperature.
- Ease each piece of crumbed chicken into the hot oil. If cooking several at once, do not overload the pan. Make sure each piece sizzles when added. Cook on one side for about 90 seconds, or until well browned, (6) and turn, cooking again for about 90 seconds. (7) Once well browned, remove, and layer the mozzarella slices on top of one side. (8)
- Place in the oven and bake for 3 minutes, until the cheese is well melted. (8)
- Slice a piece to check the chicken is cooked through. (9)
- Serve with a slice of lemon, or your favourite relish, chutney, or tomato ketchup, with mashed potatoes. (9)
Regular readers of this communique will note that barely a week goes by when we discover a new “truth” about eating, or not eating. Take salt, don’t take salt. Drink red wine, don’t drink red wine. Coffee is good for you, coffee is not. Fats are good, fats are not. And don’t get me started on sugar.
Well, today, we discover that not only is the concept of three meals a day not appropriate to good living, it might actually be deleterious. Mother Jones, an American periodical (six issues a year) reporting on American life and times, notes that eating is about providing our bodies with energy, and how and when you take food and how often through the day doesn’t make a touch of difference. And fasting regularly will have us living longer with clearer minds and sharper bodies; at least if you start out as a clever, calculating mouse.
Mark Mattson, notes Mother Jones, a neuroscientist at the US National Institute on Aging, is a keen observer of the habits of mice, as are many researchers. He reports that mice “who skip feedings are leaner and live longer” than those who eat when fed. The former group also have “more robust brain cells”.
Weight loss and nutrition expert Christopher Ocher, of New York’s Mt Sinai Hospital has a simple, commonsense approach to getting the right calorie intake your body needs: to eat when hungry, not at specified meal times. That he says, “might be the best diet of all”.
Best of TMix+
Last week we announced a pre-order offer for advance copies of our first collection of recipes. Great Recipes for the Thermomix (RRP $34.95) will be in bookstores from October 3, but pre-orders will gain a 20 per cent discount on the cover price (plus $5 postage and handling), and will receive books before the book goes to the shops. I did point out that this book is a collection of recipes that have been published in issues of TMix+, but there was some confusion. So, to clarify, the book does contain recipes from issues 1, 2 and 3, but produced in book form.
The contents of the book are illustrated below.
For the cynics
You might recall last week I mentioned a loaded lemon tree on the 17th tee at my golf club, a concept that cynics suggested I made up. The proof, of course, is in the photo below. More tomorrow!!