Posts Tagged ‘Ratner’s’

Isa’s Chickpea Schnitzel v. Ratner’s Vegetable Cutlets

November 26, 2013


I made the highly praised recipe for chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon.  When I told my husband I made vegetarian cutlets, he said “Vegetable cutlets? Like from Ratner’s? Oh, good–I haven’t had those in years!”

He was a bit let down when I explained that the chickpea cutlets were more like schnitzel: crunchy on the outside like fried chicken and chewy on the inside like seitan. Not at all like the Ratner’s cutlets. So, I told him I would make the Ratner’s cutlets, too.

The vegetable cutlets from the long gone Ratner’s restaurant were basically crustless potato knishes dotted with little bits of vegetables. The restaurant used to serve them smothered in mushroom gravy.

Haute cuisine they are not, but as retro comfort food they have a lot going for them. In fact, the Ratner’s vegetable cutlet has a bit of current pop culture cachet thanks to a brief cameo in Mad Men (see also here).

Ratner’s Vegetable Cutlets represent an earlier era in American Jewish cuisine, an era in which Lou G. Seigal’s (see also this) represented the pinnacle of fine kosher dining and casual kosher dairy restaurants were places like Ratner’s on the Lower East Side, Gross’s in Midtown (where Mr. Broadway is now) and Famous’s Dairy Restauant on the Upper West Side.

There is a recipe for the vegetable cutlets in the Ratner’s cookbook, but I had to tweak it a bit to make them more as a I remembered. Adding a pinch of poultry seasoning gives the cutlets a taste a bit like stuffing, which I rather like. The tomato sauce recipe is nothing like what I remembered, so I went with a recipe for mushroom gravy loosely adapted from Crazy Sexy Kitchen.

Tonight we will have a throwdown: retro Jewish vegetarian chow v. modernishe vegan fare.