Frying Schnitzels

The following is a very stimulating question I was recently asked:

I was frying schnitzels on the stovetop in three different frying pans, and realized afterwards that one of the pans was Milchig. Not only was that pan Milchig, it had been used earlier the same day to fry with butter. All of the fried schnitzels are mixed together and indistinguishable.

What should I do?

 

At first glance, one might be tempted to permit them. Assuming an equal number of schnitzels were cooked in each pan, the majority of them would be unquestionably Kosher. When dealing with a mixture of dry, solid items, the majority rules.

However, there is a significant exemption to this rule that is relevant to our case. The Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 101 states that a חתיכה הראויה להתכבד is not Batel. This means that any piece which is large enough to serve as a full portion that would be served to a respected guest is too important to be disregarded. A whole piece of schnitzel would meet this definition. Consequently, there are no grounds to permit full pieces. If there were any smaller sections in the mixture, they would be Kosher, as Bitul still applies to them.

 

Since someone needing three pans to fry his schnitzel is apparently preparing a significant quantity and the loss of forbidding all of them would be significant, it is worth exploring various alternative options for leniencies.

 

There is a rule in Issur v’Heter that Nat bar Nat is permitted. This means that if a Pareve food was cooked in a Fleishig pot, it may still be eaten with Milchigs. The logic behind this is that when the flavor is so far removed from its source, it is too weak to create a prohibition of Basar b’Chalav. Assuming that the schnitzels were breaded, one might suggest that the journey of the butter flavor from pan to coating to chicken is far enough removed to permit them. While the Rema prohibits Nat bar Nat in similar circumstances, b’diEved (ex post facto), which is clearly our case, he permits it.

 

However, there are a number of flaws in this logic. While they may be grounds to consider the breading a separate entity from the chicken inside (based on the Sefer HaTeruma), there are other hurdles that are more problematic.

Firstly, the Maharshal rules the roasting (which would include frying with a minimal quantity of oil) is forbidden absolutely.

Furthermore, the Chavos Da’as writes that the Heter of Nat bar Nat is only relevant when the transfer of flavors is done in distinct stages. Here where the butter passes from the pan to the coating to the chicken simultaneously, it would be forbidden.

Additionally, many Poskim write that a transfer of flavor only reduces it when the intermediary is a vessel, and the coating would not count.

Finally, it is likely that there is chicken flavor in the coating as well, and the butter and meat flavors are meeting before either has been significantly reduced.

 

Another potential angle for leniency would be to suggest that the butter flavor may not penetrate the entire piece of schnitzel, and if only a thin layer is forbidden the stringency of not being Batel would not apply. Generally speaking, boiling spreads flavor evenly throughout an object, while dry heat only transfers it to the outer layer.

However, the exception to this rule is a fatty food, where the melting fat facilitates the transfer of flavor. The Rema assumes that all foods are fatty for this purpose, and even for the Mechaber who is more lenient, we would have to know that the schnitzel is lean. Furthermore, the butter is certainly fatty, though its status after being absorbed in the pan is questionable.

Furthermore, even for lean dry objects, we rule that the flavor travels a fingers-depth, not merely a thin layer. With schnitzel, this would include the entire thickness of the piece.

This also assumes that a very minimal quantity of oil was utilized for the frying, which is not a given. If its depth was significant, it will be considered boiling which always affects the entire piece.

 

There are other factors that could be addressed in this context, but I think it is sufficient to state that the bottom line is that there are no satisfactory grounds for leniency, and all of the schnitzels must be discarded.

23 thoughts on “Frying Schnitzels

  1. I was wondering:

    Initially assuring the shnitzel depends on them being a chaticha haruya lhischabed.

    1. I am not sure a piece of shnitzel is fitting for a chashuv guest, at least in the US. The Rama says that in a safek whether it is a ch”h”lh we can ne maikel even if the issur is mdoraisa. How do we deteremine whether a shnitzel is truly a ch”h”lh or not?

    2. Shnitzels are pretty small; the Minchas Cohen says ch”h”lh has to be big. How big does that mean?

    3. Chicken and milk are assur mdrabbanan. the mishbatzos zahav (101:9) says two sevoras, the second of which is that only things listed in the gemara are ch”h”lh, and we can say that sevora (which is more maikel) by issurei drabbanan. Would that apply here?

    • You are bringing up a very good point. The person who asked the question lives in EY, as have I for over 20 years. However, it may very well be true that in America a schnitzel is not ראויה להתכבד.
      The deciding factor is whether most people would serve it if their in-laws or a Rosh Yeshiva or other important guest were visiting their house. Here breaded schnitzel is typically served at a Chasuna and is certainly considered Chashuv, but that may not be the case in the US.
      If you are correct, then my ruling would not be relevant in America. The other sources you cite are extra credit; as if there is no doubt that schnitzel is unimportant in the States, everything else is irrelevant.

      • That’s one of them, although he ends with V’ya’yen, but see פרי מגדים סדר הנהגות השואל אם הנשאל סדר ראשון אות י”ד that seems to matir when there are two d’rabbanans. The other one is that it is chicken and milk and the Minchas Yaakov holds basar b’chalav d’rabbanan is not an issur machmas atzmo so it is not a ch’r’l. L’ma’aseh although RA”E disagrees, since there is a big hefsed m’rubeh I would not osser so fast.

        • The Rabbi Akiva Eiger who mentions cutting up the pieces is only relevant the Mechaber, since the questioner and most of the readers are Ashkenazi, it would not be relevant. I later discovered that Rav Feinhandler addressed precisely this Sheila, and ruled stringently dismissing Rabbi Akiva Eiger for precisely this reason. Furthermore, the Chelkas Yoav disagrees with Rabbi Akiva Eiger altogether.
          The Minchas Ya’akov he quoted earlier was lenient exclusively by Kavush, and not necessarily by all d’Rabbanan. I see no indication he would be similarly Meikil by poultry. In fact, the first Rabbi Akiva Eiger on the Siman, where he cites poultry in milk as a classic d’Rabbanan which does have the Halachos of חתיכה ראויה להתכבד without mentioning the Minchas Ya’akov’s opinion as dissenting, would indicate he understood his leniency as limited to Kavush. In any event, Rabbi Akiva Eiger personally rules stringently by Kavush and also by poultry, as you observed, as does the Pri Megadim.
          The Pri Megadim you mentioned in Hanhagos Shoel v’Nishal is problematic, as how will he understand the Rema in Siman 99? He will have to interpret his disagreement with the Mechaber as limited to a precisely equal mixture of Issur and Heter, which is a big Ukimta. Pashtus of the Rema certainly includes even the Pri Megadim’s case in his Chumra. Anyways, the Pri Megadim only said “maybe” the Rema would concede.
          So in conclusion, it seems to me that Rabbi Akiva Eiger, the Chelkas Yoav, Rav Feinhandler and the Pri Megadim 99 would certainly forbid the schnitzels, and there is no indication the Minchas Ya’akov would disagree. While the Pri Megadim in HSvN leans towards leniency, he is uncertain and problematic. I still don’t see any solid grounds to permit the schnitzels.

            • The Pri Megadim in Mishbetzos Zahav does originally suggest that the Taz in OC is Mashma that he is Matir even Ikro Min HaTorah and even l’Chatchila, however after quoting the Maharshal he concludes that the Taz is inconclusive.
              Furthermore, towards the end of the same MZ, he explains that the Taz was only Matir a Lach b’Lach.
              However, you appear to be correct regarding the Sifsei Da’as. I don’t know off-hand how to resolve them.

  2. a few questions:
    1. Was the shnitzel fried in oil or shmaltz? If they used oil… then providing that there was a sufficient amount of oil let’s say about 1/4 inch … (not just a few drops to avoid sticking to pan)
    2. did they fry the oil in the pan to warm it up (as is normally done) before the shnitzel is placed in pan? if they did…
    3. perhaps consider that the oil is nat bar nat liheteirah and DOES make the butter batul before it comes in contact with the shnitzel… (an extra consideration… because of hefsed marubah)

  3. My point was that you could question IF the snitzel even became a CH”LH because it first or a significant portion became buttel in the oil.
    safek 1. did it or did it not become battul in oil
    safek 2. since its oil and mfafeih bkulo was there NOT ENOUGH TO BE 60 TIMES THE remaining FLAVOR..
    IN THIS CASE THE PIECE NEVER BECOMES A ch’h”Lhis
    then for sure it should be battul and permitted since its a drabanan and sfek drabanan bfrat b’hefsed mrubah

    • I’m afraid I don’t understand your point. I don’t see how the schnitzel could possibly be Batel to the oil. If mean the butter flavor is Batel, I don’t see it either. As a general rule in Issur v’Heter we are always suspect of the worst case scenario, even for an Issur d’Rabbanan. It is possible that no butter flavor came out of the pan before placing the schnitzel, and the entire flavor went directly into the meat, which would not have 60x and would certainly be Assur.
      Can you please clarify?

  4. to clarify i am trying to disengage the first piece from even becoming a chaticha hareuya lihiskabed..
    practically speaking the person frying a large amount of shnitzel in 3 pans would use a large amount of oil
    the oil would first be heated to a frying temp then the snitzel is placed in the pan, not at the same time…
    my thought was that the oil would be enough to render the butter buttul brov since it is AT THAT POINT before the snitzel is added nat bar nat lheteirah.
    now we have oil or even as you say some flavor in the pan but the flavor in the oil is buttul and would not the minimal flavor if any be enough of a safek NOT to make it assur as a chaticha ha reuyah lihiskabed, then all the shnitzel can be used as it now CAN be buttul brov.

    You would be right if they were to put the shnitzel into the pan AT THE SAME TIME THEY PUT THE OIL.. but the practice is to always heat the oil first by it self..

    • Thank you for clarifying your previous comments, now I understand them better.
      However, I still have to respectfully disagree with some of your points.

      I fully agree with your assessment that the oil would be heated prior to adding the schnitzels; that is a good point. Nevertheless, I’m not convinced it will make any significance impact on the conclusion.
      While it is possible and even likely that the oil is of larger quantity than the butter was, they are two different types of items and flavors. With Min b’SheEino Mino, Rov is irrelevant and 60x is required for Bitul Min HaTorah. It is unlikely that there will be 60x the butter in the oil. If there would, the schnitzel would not merely be not a Chaticha HaReuya l’Hiskabed, it would be permitted completely.

      Furthermore, as a general rule we always assume the worst case scenario, as I mentioned. For example, if a piece of Issur fell into three different pots, each one would require 60x the Issur out of concern that 100% of the flavor of the Issur went only into this pot. This is not even considered a Safek, and will be needed even for an Issur d’Rabbanan.
      In our case, while it is conceivable and even likely that some of the butter flavor exited the pan into the oil, when we judge the relationship between the schnitzel and pan directly we will require 60x in the schnitzel against the entire amount of butter that was once in the pan. This is unlikely to exist.
      Therefore, we have no Safek here at all to allow Bitul on the Chaticha HaReuya l’Hiskabed.

  5. Rav Steiglitz of Beitar permitted an identical situation a couple of years ago.
    His reasoning was that the oil in the pan would render the frying Tigun and not Bishul. While most Poskim consider Tigun to be Assur mi’dOraisa as well, the Pri Megadim writes that one may rely upon the Minchas Ya’akov’s lenient view when there is a significant loss.
    Furthermore, since poultry in milk is also only forbidden mi’dRabbanan, the issue in our circumstances is that of a convergence of two Rabbinic prohibitions. The Taz YD 90 writes that this situation is permitted. While the vast majority of Poskim disagree with the Taz, the Kaf HaChaim writes that when there is risk of a significant loss, one may rely on his opinion for an Issur d’Rabbanan.

    • A fascinating angle on the issue. Unfortunately, I can’t agree with his analysis.
      Firstly, it is doubtful if the quantity of oil utilized in frying schnitzel is sufficient to render it Tigun and not Tzli.
      Secondly, while there are some Poskim who consider the opinion that Tigun is not Bishul regarding Basar b’Chalav as a factor, most notably the Maharam Shick quoted in the Pischei Teshuva, it is not a well accepted position. The vast majority of Poskim consider Tigun to certainly be included in the classification of Bishul, and do not take into account the dissenters at all.
      Furthermore, the Taz’s leniency relating to a convergence of two Rabbinic prohibitions is also tenuous at the best. I’m not aware of a single other Posek who accepts it as a factor.
      Finally, since both the Pri Megadim and the Kaf HaChaim only were willing to consider any leniency in the case of a significant financial loss, we cannot combine their positions. As a general rule, two leniencies both predicated on monetary loss are not combinable.

  6. A clarification. Upon further discussion, some of the details I wrote yesterday were not fully acurate.
    The Kaf HaChaim was not referring to the Taz’s general Heter of 2 d’Rabbanans, rather he was specific to Chaticha HaReuya l’Hiskabed. His point was, while most Poskim apply Chaticha HaReuya l’Hiskabed to an Issur d’Rabbanan as well, if the Issur is based on a convergance of 2 d’Rabbanans it is Batel. The Chavos Da’as, Chasam Sofer and Zivchei Tzedek agree as well. Additionally, he does not condition it upon any financial loss.

  7. Is having one frying pan considered קבוע (since you saw the shnitzel come of the the pan, but no longer know which one it came out of)? That would make רוב inapplicable so there could be no bitul on the assur pieces.

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