Growing up I remember my mom serving thin breaded cutlets. The French call them “escalopes”, the Germans, call them “Schnitzel”, Americans, fried steak, you get the idea. I never asked or enquired what they were made with and found out later on that they were usually made with veal, pork or chicken. But what I mostly remember was the crispy breaded coating and the drizzle of lemon juice that came with them. I am still mortified to think that I may have eaten veal, slices of a baby calf… Growing up in France, you eat what you are being served! It was a different time!
Now the good news is that you can make the same delicious crispy thin cutlet only using vegetables. There are a few options for the base. You can use slices of celeriac (a root vegetable from the turnip family). You can make patties using gluten flour, or some tofu or oats. They all work but in my experience, oat patties are the quickest, cheapest and easiest ones to make. They also create a lighter texture. Another good reason for using oats is that they naturally bind together when rehydrated.
Tips for making perfect Schnitzels
– Oat cutlets are a little soft before cooking them so you will need to handle them carefully and wet your hands to make the patties.
– Make smaller cutlets (large ones are harder to handle). You can make almost 8 medium size cutlets with this recipe. I made mine a little too big but they held well after frying them.
– Use instead a large spatula or a metal scrapper, scoop the flatten cutlet and take a silicone brush to put the liquid batter on one side. Place that side down on a plate of seasoned breadcrumbs, then brush the other side and sprinkle more breadcrumbs until both sides are evenly covered. Use the same spatula or scrapper and place in the frying pan.
– Make sure to have everything ready so that you can work quickly! This means have the wet batter in a small bowl with the silicone brush next to it. Pour seasoned bread crumbs in a plate.
– Bread the cutlets while you panfry them. Heat up 2 frying pans and add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in each. You will need to keep adding oil for each new cutlets to make them crispy. It will only take a minute or two on high heat for each side.
– Want to use less oil? Lightly spray them and air fry them for 10-12 minutes, flipping them after 8 minutes. They are thin so they don’t need to cook for a long time. What you are looking for is even browning of the breading.
These Schnitzels will keep warm in the oven but they will be crispier if you serve them right after pan frying them. They can be frozen and reheated later in the oven.
Serve with tartar sauce or other dipping sauces (like mayo and ketchup) and drizzle fresh lemon juice. Serve with a green salad.
- silicone brush
- Metal scrapper
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (like Vegenaise)
- 2-3 tbsp dill relish or chopped dill pickled
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp agave or maple syrup
- 2 cups quick or regular oats
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp salt or soy sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried sage or rosemary
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup chickpea flour
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp salt
- Whisk the dill relish, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt with the vegan mayo.
Make the patties
- Heat 1 cup of non-dairy milk, add 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp on onion powder, 1 tsp of sweet paprika, 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard, 1 tsp dried thyme or rosemary.
- Stir in the oatmeal. Taste and season if needed. Set it aside for 20 minutes.
- Place in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool it down and firm it up.
- Make 6 equal balls.
Make the wet batter
- Whisk 1/4 cup of chickpea flour with 1/4 cup of water with 1/2 tsp of salt in a small bowl.
Season the bread crumbs
- Pour 2-3 cups of breadcrumbs (panko) in a plate and add some salt to it.
Putting it together
- Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand to form a thin cutlet.
- Place it on a metal scrapper or a large spatula. Brush some of the wet batter on one side.
- Place that side down on the plate of bread crumbs. Brush the other side with the wet batter and sprinkle some of the seasoned bread crumbs.
- Heat up a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil and fry the breaded cutlet until crispy and brown on both sides.
- Place on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- Repeat with each cutlet.
- Serve with the tartar sauce and slices of lemon.