Before you judge this one, let me share a story! The year was 2019 (December), and COVID was more of an academic thought than a virus that would turn the world upside down. My wife and I were on a ski/snowshoeing trip in Switzerland (our favourite place on Earth and the inspiration of many of our Culinary Endeavours). One night after a long day on the slopes, we got the opportunity to visit Tradition Julen’s Valais Blacknose Sheep in their winter barn! We’d met them while hiking in the area in 2017 and 2018…but the chance to meet them up close and hold the lambs was just too much to pass up! So, after dinner that night’s dinner (Swiss Mushroom and Cauliflower Pie), we put our boots back on and walked through the snow to the barn at the south of the village.
It was a magical experience. The sheep now had lambs, which somehow managed to be even cuter than the adults (not an easy feat to accomplish). During our time with the sheep, the farm’s owner gave us insight into his family’s farming ethos. On a table in the barn, he had a very large insulated container and plastic cups. He began to pour soup into the cups and invited us to try it…and not being one to turn down the chance to taste new food, I went for it. It was creamy and earthy and filling and delicious. I guessed that it was mushroom soup, but I was wrong. The man explained that it was a soup made from the hay that he feeds his sheep. The point he was making was that he only feeds his animals the best food and does everything he can to provide them the best lives possible because he honors the symbiotic relationship of a farmer and his livestock. From that moment on, I really wanted to try cooking with (organic) hay.
Through two years of my intense pining for hay, my wife rolled her eyes…until a friend lent me a Swiss cookbook with a few recipes calling for hay stock! Then, my resolve steeled, and her skepticism became less steadfast (still steadfast, mind you…but less). Like Steve Urkel to Laura (yeah, a Family Matters reference), I’d worn her down! After procuring some organic hay, I got to work, and this was the result of the first try. It worked really well!
Time: 60 Minutes
- For your Schnitzel:
- Thinly sliced pork loin or chicken breast
- Bread Crumbs
- All Purpose Flour
- For your Sauce:
- Good Handful of Organic Hay
- 1 Cup Vegetable Stock (we used Roasted Garlic Stock)
- 1 Cup Cashew Milk
- Black Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
- Combine your cashew milk and vegetable stock in a pot, and add in your hay. Then, sprinkle in some black pepper, and simmer for 45-50 minutes to infuse your liquids with the hay’s earthy flavour.
- As your sauce base cooks, turn your attention to your pork:
- Arrange three bowls on your counter. In the first, add some all purpose flour. In the second, crack and beat an egg, and in the third, add bread crumbs.
- Working one piece of meat at a time, coat in flour. Then, move to your egg bowl, and cover with egg. Lastly, transfer to your third bowl, and coat in bread crumbs, and set aside. Do this until all of your meat is breaded.
- As your liquid nears the end of its simmer time, add your 2 tablespoons of butter and flour to a bowl, and use a fork to mash them together into a cohesive mixture.
- When your milk/hay stock is ready, pour the contents of the pot through a fine strainer and into a smaller saucepan. This will catch all of the hay and leave you with the deliciousness. Discard the hay.
- Heat a mixture of butter and olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan, and when it’s hot, add your breaded meat. Cook for 5-6 minutes until golden brown, and then flip, and continue cooking until it reaches an internal cooked temperature of 165 degrees F.
- As your pork cooks, bring your hay stock back to a simmer, and then add your butter/flour mixture while whisking vigorously to prevent clumping. Allow to thicken.
- When your meat is cooked, and your sauce has thickened, you’re good to go!
- Plate, drizzle your hay sauce atop, devour, and enjoy!