Monday, October 10, 2011

Tofu Schnitzel and Wild Rice Casserole

Danny: Can I have another serving...not because it is a technical achievement, which it is, but because I really like it?

If that doesn't make you want to try making these, nothing will. I should have snapped a photograph before transferring it to the pot with the peas and paprika sour cream sauce-but take Danny's word for it, this is a delicious way to prepare tofu.

What I call a schnitzel, you may call a cutlet, or a patty. Whatever the name, it is basically extra-firm tofu pressed dry of water,thinly sliced, then baked in oil, vinegar, and garlic. When cooled, I coated it in an egg wash (you could use imitation egg to keep it vegan) and rolled each slab in sourdough breadcrumbs before frying it in a bit more olive oil. It could go right on a roll at that point and make an impressive mock fried chicken sandwich, or you could simmer it in sauce as I did and treat it like a goulash. The combination of pre-baking and then frying the tofu makes for a rather impressive meat substitute. It is also much less expensive than buying the frozen ones. I don't know if this technique could be taken to the point where it could produce a mock chicken Kiev-but I'm tempted to try it.

I also made a lovely wild rice casserole, though I suppose noodles would have been the logical side for this. *shrugs*

For The Tofu Schnitzel:

1 package extra-firm tofu sliced into thin pieces and pressed dry between (several) towels.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons corn oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves, chopped

Combine oils, vinegar, sugar, salt and garlic. Pour into a baking dish and arrange tofu pieces, turning once to coat. If you have time, it can marinate for several hours, but baking it right away is fine as well. Place the dish in a 400 degree F. oven and bake 30 minutes. Flip the tofu pieces and bake another 30 minutes, turning heat to 375 degrees F. if the tofu begins to burn. Remove to a rack to drain. Chill until cold.

When tofu is chilled, beat 1 or 2 eggs together, and in another bowl have about 2 cups dry breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper. Dip the tofu pieces in egg, letting excess drain back into bowl. Roll in crumbs, and transfer to a plate. Let chill 1 hour before frying.

To fry:

Heat olive oil in a pan-maybe an inch deep at most. Take care that it doesn't smoke. Fry the tofu slices a minute or two on each side until nicely browned. Use as you like.

For the Wild Rice Casserole:

2/3 cup wild rice, rinsed
3 cups water

Place rinsed rice in a saucepan with water. bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook 40-45 minutes or until soft, checking once in a while that the water does not boil out. Drain and rinse again with hot water. Drain. Set aside until needed, or chill.

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery, scraped and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded on large holes of a box grater
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
1/2 cup vegetable stock

Heat olive oil in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Add everything but the cooked rice and stock. Cook until vegetables are soft and onion is transparent. Turn off heat, mix in rice. Transfer to a baking dish. Pour broth over rice/veg and cover. Bake about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Stir a few times during cooking.

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