Thursday, June 28, 2012

Old World Foods Get a Fresh Spin in Food Truck (with Chicken Schnitzel and Hungarian Pepper Relish Recipes)

Street food meets Eastern European and Jewish favorites at a new food truck in the Bay area. The Old World Food Truck is Kenny Hockert’s celebration of fresh and seasonal Ashkenazi soul food.
Hockert, a San Francisco resident and a trained chef, mixes his natural, organic and sustainable food experiences with his memories of eating his Grandma Dora’s cooking growing up in Queens, N.Y.

“Jewish and Eastern European food was meant to be street food. It is comfort food, family food,” Hockert said. His “slow food in a fast truck” helps keep dishes such as borscht, pierogis, knishes, deli sandwiches and gefilte fish relevant today. His gefilte fish recipe, for example, incorporates local fish and freshly grated horseradish and beets. “It has the look and feel of something old but when you get a taste, it’s something new and fresh,” he said.

Find out the truck’s schedule as well as info on catering and his regular “pop-up” nights at a San Francisco restaurant by going to his website. Recipes below are by Hockert, are used with permission and have been adapted for space, style and to reflect my experience making them.

Old World Food Truck Schnitzel Recipe
Makes 4 schnitzels

This is hands down THE BEST schnitzel recipe I've ever made.  Just recently I made it again for my fried chicken cutlet loving son and he too declared it was something truly special. 

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 cup panko bread or homemade bread crumbs
Canola oil
Lemon wedges and or honey to taste
Hungarian Pepper Relish (see recipe below)

Trim any gristle off of the chicken thighs. Butterfly thighs as needed to make the meat an even thickness. Place the thighs on a cutting board on a sturdy surface. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizering mallet or the base of a mug, pound the thigh until the meat is a uniform 1/3” thick. Mix sugar and salt together and sprinkle on both sides of the thighs. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet. Put eggs in a bowl. Spread flour and bread crumbs on separate plates. Pat the chicken in the flour, shake off excess, then dip into egg and finish by patting the chicken into bread crumbs. Repeat. Pour a 1/4" layer of oil on the bottom of a large frying pan or skillet. Heat until the oil reaches 325 degrees on a frying thermometer or until it sizzles a bread crumb. Put one chicken thigh in hot oil, it should sizzle immediately. If not, do not add others until it does. Fry on both sides until golden brown (about a minute a side). Place on prepared pan and put in oven for no more than 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately with a drizzle of honey and or lemon juice on top and Hungarian pepper relish.

Old World Food Truck Hungarian Pepper Relish
Makes about 2 cups

This tangy relish works well as a condiment to more than the fried chicken.  Try it as a pasta topping or with sausages.

1/2 lb. red bell pepper
1/2 lb. Hungarian gypsy pepper (or use additional bell pepper)
1/2 to 1 small jalapeño (optional)
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4" pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper or to taste

Seed and cut peppers (including jalapeno if using) into 1/4” pieces. Heat oil in sauce pan, add garlic, peppers and onion. Sauté over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar, simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until the liquids are mostly reduced. Add salt, pepper and paprika. Taste. It should be tangy, sweet and have a nice spice. Adjust seasonings as needed. Transfer to food processor and carefully pulse mixture into a small, chunky dice. Let cool and serve with schnitzels.

A version of this post first appeared in j. weekly.
Artist rending of truck used with permission.
Look for more about Hockert and the Old World Food Truck on Blog Appetit soon.

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