The glory of those celebrated chefs of decadent times is humbled to the essential as of late. Just as the recent quarantine by way of snow gives birth to new preparations unseen out of home pantries across Atlanta, once haute chefs have been letting ingredients unprofitable in this value economy go unreplaced, to where only the staples are left standing in this fiscal winter of the professional kitchen. Shaun Doty has let go of Shaun’s, his signature restaurant, for the sake of focusing on the more thrifty Yeah!Burger, where a limited menu served on parchment and paperboard is carried on mom’s cookie sheet to the table at a more than reasonable rate.
Surely Chef Doty will return in high form when a greater availability of funds re-emerge, for the chef who has found his personal aesthetic can’t stand to part with it for good. To exercise his self-identifying style is to realize himself. Those chefs have finally found their station in the history of professional food, taking classic, traditional, conventional, and common recipes and having their say with them through the individual chef’s technique-creative esprit.
Weinerschnitzel, by law, starts with a flattened cutlet of veal, or else don’t call in weinerschnitzel in the land of “that ruthless and valiant race” (Winston Churchill). Germany’s national meal comes about by soaking the butterflied, pounded veal in a mixture of eggs, parmesan, salt, pepper, and milk. Shaun Doty’s Pork Schnitzel with Grilled Vidalia Onions, Peanuts, and Parsley recipe relies much on embellishing his presentation outside of the breaded scallopine itself. He mallets a slice of pork tenderloin to 1/4″ thick, seasons it, then dusts the cutlet first with flour. He soaks the meat in nothing but eggs, reserving the major flavoring agents for his onion salad “garnish”. The soaked cutlet is then dredged in Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) for crackle and more neutrality of origin.
The traditional weinerschnitzel doesn’t dredge the soaked cutlet in crumbs, but presses the crumbs into the wet meat by hand, making traditional weinerschnitzel an almost eggy meal fit for breakfast. Finely ground bread or cracker crumbs are usually used for this.
In finer Viennese establishments (“weiner” means “Austrian”), gold dust graces the crumb mix to impart royal gleam to the crumb’s color. Both Doty’s schnitzel and the traditional recipe has the breaded cutlet browned in skillets, the traditional in butter, Doty’s in oil.
Doty’s onion salad garnish is where he takes over and away from traditional practice. He grills oiled skewered Vidalia onion rings, sliced to 1/4″ thickness, after they’ve been blanched in salted water for 3 minutes. When lightly-charred, he coarsely chops the onions and tosses them with parsley, peanut oil, and Parmagiano-Reggiano (there’s the Parmesan element! undoubtedly adopted from the Italian Cotoletta alla Milanesa from which all schnitzels derive). This is the garnish with which Doty tops his scallopine, dropping dry roasted peanuts to finish, and lemon wedges for squeezing. Traditional weinerschnitzel simply garnishes with lemon wedges with a parsley sprig tucked in.
Doty’s talent lies not only in the popularity of his flavor, but in the imagined flavor when reading one of his recipes. It’s not hard to imagine what Yeah!Burgers taste like, but let’s hope the future holds in store feasts of the stomach and the imagination for Doty’s followers in more potential-fulfilling offerings.