food

Holiday at Home: "The German schnitzel night that'll make you feel like Christmas came early."

Australian Pork
Thanks to our brand partner, Australian Pork

I never wanted to celebrate Christmas more than during isolation.

Being distanced from family and friends, during a very strange time in the world, all I wanted to do was fast forward to Christmas.

Most of our family live in other cities – some in other countries. So, my 13-year-old son and I have to make our own fun until we can properly travel again.

With the evenings getting very chilly, I decided on a theme night. A wintry, snowglobe-style European Christmas – just like an early Christmas in July.

But I thought we could go a little further.

We’re originally from Adelaide, and used to visit a little town called Hahndorf, in the hills. It’s a gorgeous place, originally settled by Germans in 1839, and still sells handmade German goods and crafts.

We used to love visiting, looking at all the quaint shops – which would become a Christmas market (like the European ones, except 40 degrees) on December weekends – and then finishing the outing with a German schnitzel at the Hahndorf Inn.

To this day, the schnitzel is one of Winston’s (and yes, my) favourite foods.

So, it was decided: we’d do a Christmas in Semi-Iso, and make it German with a classic pork schnitzel.

The yummiest pork schnitzel recipe.

Doing a bit of research, I was interested to discover that pork is the favourite meat to consume in Germany, and they have many recipes for it.

Unlike the Wiener schnitzel, which is Austrian in origin and usually made with veal, a traditional German schnitzel is made using pork.

I checked out the Australian Pork website, and found a delicious-looking German pork schnitzel recipe. I thought it was something a little different that Winston could get on board with.

I tried to convince him about sauerkraut, a traditional German side dish of fermented cabbage (which is meant to be super healthy, too), and received a firm no. So we did roast veggies as a side.

The schnitzel was so easy – I knew it was a recipe my budding sous chef could handle.

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The basic ingredients. Image: Supplied.
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We did, however, encounter a glitch: there was a slight disagreement about the breadcrumbs and sage, both of which were to be finely chopped, but Winston prepared …roughly chopped.

I tried to warn him that it wouldn’t turn out the same, but, you know, he’s 13. And I have to give him credit – it still turned out delicious.

The recipe was super straightforward: have three bowls prepared. One with flour, one with two eggs whisked with a dash milk, and one with finely chopped breadcrumbs with sage. (Winston made the decision to skip the recommended rolled oats and lemon juice.)

And then all you do is dip the pork in each bowl, and pop it into the frying pan, which should be hot enough to be bubbling with oil.

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I called them Hansel and Gretel-sized breadcrumbs. Image: Supplied.
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Making his first ever pork schnitty. Image: Supplied.
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As Winston cooked, and the veggies roasted themselves, I set the table, using ‘the good crystal’ and brought out a few Christmas items to make the table festive.

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The ornaments on the tree are made by a much-younger Winston, and so are my most-treasured. Image: Supplied.

The pork schnitzel cooked in minutes, and next thing I knew, Winston was plating up. Even though it didn’t look exactly like a professionally prepared schnitzel, it was the best one I’d ever tasted.

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Not the perfect presentation, but it's DELICIOUS. Image: Supplied.

...served with a side of history.

I took the chance that night to talk to Winston a bit about German history. My dad was obsessed with European history, and I can still remember all he taught me about it, because really, it’s so interesting. So, I was delighted when Winston began asking questions about the World Wars, even though I did have a moment when I realised I’d become my father.

German history is not just about the wars, though. The country is an industrial and economic leader, which has affected the countries around it, such as Austria.

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But the best German event in history is one which I witnessed on television; the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall which divided east and west Germany. I was 13 – Winston’s age – and I can still remember watching the scenes of euphoria, seeing how a country can change with people power. It was freedom and history in action; it’s something I’ll never forget, and I’ve not seen anything live like it, since.

...and a few German language surprises.

As a writer, I’m a language nut, and I think it’s so important to understand how it’s evolved. I also took German for a year at school (but please don’t test me on anything).

I can say hello (hallo) and goodbye (auf weidersehen) and maybe count to 10 (eins, zwei, drei – that’s a start).

So, I took the opportunity to tell my son he speaks German every day, without knowing it. That was my hook, and it worked.

The most common one he uses is, of course, uber – as in Uber Eats! Uber means ‘big’ or ‘great’ in German, and he didn’t know that.

We worked out other examples that include kindergarten, doppelgänger, daschund, bratwurst, hinterland, poltergeist, rucksack and zeitgeist.

Winston added Mercedes-Benz to the list, not because we have one, but because he’s a car-mad teen.

Turning Christmas in Semi-Iso into a major learning experience was such a win for me, as a parent. It was a way to mix up those nights in - which we've had a lot of lately - and throw a bit of festive cheer into it.

But the best part, no doubt, was having an amazing, slightly imperfect but totally delicious, pork schnitzel made by my son, for me.

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Frohe Weihnachten! (Merry Christmas in German). We're drinking orange juice, by the way - not wine! Image: Supplied.

For more 'Holiday at Home' ideas, check out our family nights in Japan and Mexico.

Now tell us, what's the best dish your child has made for you?

Feature image: Supplied.

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