Piccata-style Pork Cutlets

Capers, capers, and more capers! This is probably at least twice, but more likely three times, more capers than sane people use when making piccata, especially with the classic veal or chicken which are both very mild meats. But since we just bought a Costco-sized bottle of capers in brine, why not indulge in caper happiness? …Who are we kidding? We buy capers in Costco-sized jars BECAUSE we’re caper-happy.

These Piccata-style Pork Cutlets were our second-course following that ono Pasta with Cantaloupe Sauce we had earlier. Because the pasta was both creamy and slightly sweet, we knew we couldn’t have that as a sole entree, so we opted to eat in courses. The pasta was our first course, and this dish followed with some bruschetta with garlic. We will probably want that cantaloupe sauce again while melons are in high season here, and next time we may follow it with a piccata-style fish.

Before we moved to Germany, I always used chicken breasts to make piccata, but while we lived there I tried using pork cutlets because it was a very popular cut in the markets and Metzgerei. Likewise in the shops around Hawaii you can find thinly sliced pork loin cutlets, cut for Japanese tonkatsu (panko-crusted, deep-fried pork cutlets). This saves the step of having to butterfly chicken breasts before pounding to the desired thin-ness. Now we can go straight to the pounding! Rolling pins ready?? Let’s go!

I have to say that this causes quite a racket. Our poor cat Kiowea went scurrying to hide when I started with the whacking. He doesn’t like loud noises anyway, but this really through him for a loop. Poor dear!

These two cutlets at top show the 1/4-inch tonkatsu cut — already beautifully cut and so-o-o lean. In the bottom half of the photo, one cutlet has been pounded to the desired paper-thin slip for piccata, or for Vietnamese-style BBQ pork, or very small Schnitzel. LOL

Lay a good measure of wax paper on a large cutting board, then place your cutlets about 6-7 inches apart from each other. Be generous — they will need some space to spread when you start pounding. I’ve found it helpful when pounding meat to start with a good whack in the center of the piece, then to continue pounding while moving to one edge, then back from the center to the other edge. Think of it like the action of rolling out a pie crust — from the center, to the edge.

Whether chicken, pork or fish, we prefer piccata-style dishes without the breading on the meat. It saves on calories and prep time, as well as just letting the flavors of the meat and piquant gravy shine.

Another plus for this preparation is that it cooks so quickly that even with the time you will spend pounding the cutlets, dinner can be on the table in 30-40 minutes. And it is so flavorful — chock full of garlic, butter, wine, lemon, and yes, capers — that even simple undressed pasta will shine beside it! Put the water for the pasta on to boil before you start pounding meat, and the whole thing will finish about the same time. You can even remove the finished meat and sauce from the pan, and add the drained cooked pasta to the same pan to gather up the last bits of flavor in the pan. It’s not pretty, true, but you’ll have yourself a great meal nonetheless!

for 2 persons

3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 TBL. olive oil
1/3 lb. pork loin cutlets for tonkatsu or Schnitzel, about 6 pieces for tonkatsu, 2 Schnitzel
(pounded to desired thin-ness, see above)
sea salt
ground black pepper
1/4 cup very dry white wine (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or even dry Vermouth)
2 TBL. capers, rinsed if desired (the photos on this page show more like 6 TBL. capers)
1-1/2 TBL. unsalted butter
Juice of half a lemon

Over medium high heat, lightly brown garlic in oil, then remove from pan and save.

Lightly season pounded cutlets with sea salt and ground black pepper, then place in single layer in pan to lightly brown each side (do in batches). This will take about 90 seconds or so per side. Remove to warmed platter while doing second batch.

When all cutlets are browned, de-glaze pan with wine, scraping up all the browned bits at the bottom, and allow to cook until reduced by half (about a full minute). Add capers and butter, and swirl through pan. When the liquid starts bubbling (about 1 minute), return meat and browned garlic to pan and cook for another minute, or until meat is heated through. Turn off heat and squeeze lemon over. Taste to correct for salt.

Serve with your favorite pasta, or even simple cooked noodles with the pan gravy on top. A salad and the same dry white wine you poured for the recipe will round out your meal. Pictured: Piccata pork with simple linguine noodles and courgettes.

Kio lays low


More recipes with capers:
Bowtie Pasta with Tuna (30 minutes from start to finish)