Shnitzelonim, Chips & Affligem
It’s 2005. I have just moved to Israel. I wake up on foam mattress on the floor of my friend’s three room apartment. A small three room apartment that is home to seven people. As I rub the sleep from my eyes there’s one thought running through my mind like a broken record. I don’t have a return ticket.
That feeling of uncertainty didn’t last long.
After a week of “new-immigrant” bureaucracy I moved into ulpan, a residential Hebrew-language program designed to teach new comers, not just their new language, but aspects of their new culture. Friendships began to take shape and it wasn’t long before rituals were established. People found their favorite coffee shops, grocery stores, Internet access spots and bars. For our clique, one of those rituals was O’Connell’s.
O’Connell’s was our bar.
This is where we would celebrate birthdays and holidays, commiserate breakups, spend paychecks before they were earned, or see people off when the left Jerusalem for Tel Aviv or elsewhere. O’Connell’s is also where I where I discovered my favorite beer, Affligem. Served in a goblet, this golden Belgian Pale Ale would shimmer and shine as we created endless memories.
The year or so we spent at O’Connell’s until my room mate opened his bar, Sugar Hill, feels like a Hollywood montage of happiness. I’d share photos with you but this was the day before smartphones, so when we were hanging out together, we were actually hanging out, not snapping selfies or posting pictures of our food. Trust me, the mental photos of those nights out are very much alive — but for the life of me, there’s only one thing I can ever remember ordering from the menu.
Shnitzelonim and chips. And Affligem.
Shnitzelonim (think mini chicken shnitzels) could be compared to the American chicken nugget, but that would be an injustice. You pop one of these in your mouth while the oil from the deep frier still glistens in light and the crunch gives way to a moist bite of chicken breast. Dip one of your fries in garlic aioli and grab your beer mug of amber ale to wash it all down. It’s the perfect bar food combination. Perfect. That is why I am choosing this recipe for my “comfort food” submission to the Kosher Connection. This dish represents the happiness that comes with the freedom to live your dreams and do so with the friends that you love.
And who doesn’t like the perfect plate of steak fries?
Oven Baked Steak Fries
Ingredients (serves six)
- Four large yukon gold potatoes
- Olive oil
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Cut your potatoes into thick fries, I like them to be the width of my thumb. The larger they are, the more cooking time you will need.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil then drizzle salt, pepper and zaatar on the cookie sheet. Now set the cut potatoes on the sheet and make sure none of them are touching. Sprinkle some salt to taste and put into the heated oven for 45 minutes.
Keeping true to my gluten free lifestyle, I didn’t actually use breadcrumbs when it came to the chicken. I used a combination of almond meal and quinoa flour and seasoned it with cumin, zaatar, garlic powder salt and pepper. I love Trader Joe’s almond meal and Bob’s Red Mill have so many gluten free flour options. I set up dipping stations and used the tried and true Anne Burrell “one hand clean, one hand dirty” technique. My left hand doesn’t touch the egg or the breadcrumbs, my right hand never touches unbreaded ingredients. Each hand has a purpose. My three year old would call this teamwork. I also have a dish towel tucked into the waistband of my pants so a clean hand is always just a wipe away.
This part always takes me longer than I think it will, and because my fries were filling the oven, I decided to bake some of the shnitzelonim and fry some of them in a combination of coconut oil and grapeseed oil.
Shnitzelonim – Gluten Free
Ingredients (serves six)
- Four large chicken breasts
- Three eggs
- 1.5 cups almond meal
- 1.5 cups quinoa flour
- Teaspoon of zaatar
- Tablespoon of cumin
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
- Slice your chicken into finger-food sized slices. Allow them to reach room temperature
- Crack and beat the eggs and put into a flat pan like the one pictured above
- Combine the almond meal, quinoa flour, cumin, zaatar and garlic, season with salt and pepper and put in another flat dish
- Bread each piece of chicken, put in the oven at 425 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes. If you are not sure if your chicken is cooked, check the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees and the meat is not pink in the middle.
Serve with sweet chilli sauce and garlic aioli (until I post my own aioli recipe, I’ll keep telling you to use this one) for the full experience.
And please… don’t forget the Affligem!