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 schnitzel, 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 schnitzel, 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
a handful of flour to dredge
Slices of mozzarella or melting cheese.
Finely chopped herbs
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
2. 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)
3. Whizz the breadcrumbs 15 seconds/speed 10 or until a coarse crumb is achieved. Season with salt and black pepper. (2)
4. Beat the egg with the milk.
5. Set up a series of plates, one with the flour, one with the egg wash, one with the breadcrumbs. (3)
6. 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)
7. 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.
8. 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)
9. Place in the oven and bake for 3 minutes, until the cheese is well melted. (8)
10. Slice a piece to check the chicken is cooked through. (9)
11. Serve with a slice of lemon, or your favourite relish, chutney, or tomato ketchup, with mashed potatoes. (9)
NOTE: The same method applies for fish fillets, or lamb cutlets, and, of course, battered veal or pork.