My mother and my grandmother have hearts of gold. Ever since I was a child they always enthusiastically accepted my proposal to invite one or more friends for lunch, as to be able to do our homework together in the afternoon.
You know, I live in the countryside, so if you wanted to have friends for lunch you had to go through a long bureaucratic process. My friends’ parents had to agree since the previous day with the bus driver so that even my class mates could take the yellow school bus, the one which after school would drive to the countryside. My enthusiasm would begin right there, with the shared bus drive.
I was always so excited to share that journey which would last more than half an hour. For those who were not used to that long journey in the countryside among fields, white roads and villages, it was almost like a school trip. When I was alone, though, that was usually the time to indulge in some daydreaming: games, a little sister, huts in the trees, Christmas… I soon began to build castles in the sky.
The bus would leave us at the beginning of my little village, then we would walk back home under our huge backpacks. We would share gossips, laughter and plans for the afternoon. As soon as we would get home mum or grandma would welcome us with a smile and the usual Wash your hands, it’s ready on the table!
The menu was always the same, as we considered these as special days. A generous serving of pasta with meat sauce or basil pesto would open the lunch, followed almost every time by fried cutlets, as mum and grandma wanted to cook something which could be appealing to all children, even to the most picky ones.
It could be chicken, turkey or pork: the meat inside was soft and juicy, made even more children-friendly by a crisp golden crust. Usually grandma would make also fries, the real ones: peeled potatoes cut into wedges and fried in olive oil. After this hearty meal they would bring to the table a fruit basket and we could choose between mandarins, apricots, peaches or apples, depending on what the season offered.
After lunch we would move to another table to do our homeworks, waiting for the late afternoon when it would have been time again for a snack. It could be a slice of crostata, of a yoghurt cake, tea with cookies or, in summer, a cup of ice cream.
These were special days, thus entitled to fry. We have never had the habit of frying: cutlets, potatoes, artichokes or fritters, they were all reserved for special days, such as fried rabbit on Sundays. These hazelnut coated cutlets remind me so much the days when I had friends over for lunch. They are also gluten-free, unusual, and you can cook them as quickly as they will disappear from the plate.
White pork without fat marbling is quite lean: the hazelnut coating keeps the meat juicy on the inside, while the outside is covered with a crisp crust made by a few tablespoons of finely chopped hazelnuts and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in the pan.
The ideal side, of course, is a bowl of potatoes, cut into wedges and fried with some olive oil, rosemary and two cloves of garlic. Instead of mayonnaise, adults would appreciate a tablespoon of strong mustard which creates a nice contrast with the sweetness of the pork, giving an extra kick to a dish which will appeal everyone.
Hazelnut coated pork cutlets
- 200 g of thinly slices of pork loin
- 150 g of hazelnuts
- 1 egg
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 potatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- Strong mustard
- Blend the hazelnuts into a coarse flour.
- Beat the egg in a shallow dish. Coat each slice with the egg wash, then coat with the hazelnut flour.
- Warm a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and cook the pork cutlets for about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.
- Remove the pork and lay it on a plate with some kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt.
- As a side dish make fried potatoes: peel them, cut them into wedges and fry the potatoes in a large pan with olive oil, rosemary and garlic.
- Serve potatoes and pork with a spoon of strong mustard.