Schnitzel around the world
Schnitzel is the German term for cutlet. As a dish, schnitzel is a basic concept with serveral variations and reitterations worldwide. Start with a tender lean or trimmed meat cutlet, pound it thin, coat it with a breading then fry it. Some like it plain, with a lemon wedge while others prefer it with extra seasoning or sauce.
The popular French version, known as escalope, is usually made with pork or veal. In Italy, there’s cotoletta alla Milanese made with bone-in veal cutlets. The Italian inspired Milanesa is a South American schnitzel. In Japan you’ll find tonkatsu done with pork loin breaded in panko.
Across Germany and Eastern Europe, schnitzel is found on most traditional restaurant menus along with some local variations. Look for Jägershschnitzel or hunter’s schnitzel topped with a mushroom gravy. There’s the Rhamschnitzel smothered with a cream sauce. One of my favourites is the Czech specialty known as Prague schnitzel with its unique potato crust.
The famous Viennese cutlet
The last time I was in Vienna, I just could not get enough of the famous Wiener schnitzel. Its name derives from the German word for Vienna, Wien. The traditional meat used for schnitzel in Vienna is veal. Restaurants in Austria and Germany offering Wiener schnitzel must make it with veal as the dish’s name is a protected geographical indication. When different meats like chicken or pork are used, the word Wiener should be dropped from the title of the dish.
This is a dish the requires a bit of prep but cooks up quickly. You may prefer to prepare the side dishes first. That way you can fry up the schnitzel right after it’s breaded and serve it immediately once it’s cooked. Otherwise, you could get all of the meat breaded and put it aside or refrigerate it if will be a while before you cook it.
After you have prepared your choice of meat(s) below, rub the meat with the seasonings. Set up a breading station to bread one piece at a time with the help of two forks. Heat the oil and cook in batches if you can’t fit it all in the pan. When done, set on a wire rack or a platter lined with paper towels.
This is the classic version which is always made with veal. The ideal cut is veal scallopini as it is lean and thinly sliced. If your cultlets are a bit thick, pound them to about ¼ inch thickness with a meat mallet between two pieces of plastic wrap. If you’re going for the traditional recipe, eliminate the caraway, chili powder and garlic salt. Season only with salt, pepper and sweet paprika, then garnish with lemon and parsley.
You’re best to use a medium-sized pork tenderloin which should make enough to serve four people. After slicing the tenderloin into 1-inch medallions you’ll use a meat mallet to pound the meat to about ¼ inch thickness between plastic wrap.
For this recipe, use two chicken breast halves. Once breaded you should find the portions plenty filling for four people. Start by removing the small filet section from the breasts, then slice the breast halves horizontally to “butterfly” them open. If they are large breasts, you may opt to cut them into two pieces for easier handling. Next, pound them to about ¼ inch thickness with a meat mallet between two pieces of plastic wrap.
Schnitzel is often served with a side of French fries or potato salad and garnished with a lemon wedge and parsley. The lemon cuts the oiliness nicely, but you could try some dill pickles instead. Even better, slice up some homemade dill & garlic pickles. One of the best sides for schnitzel is cabbage noodles. This is an Eastern European specialy that pairs perfectly. Other options are either potato salad or sweet and sour cabbage.
Schnitzel (Veal, Pork or Chicken)
- 1 pork or veal tenderloin or 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp lard
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp sweet paprika
- ½ tsp caraway seeds
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- Cut pork tenderloin into 1-inch thick pieces (skip this step for chicken and veal versions)
- Pound with meat mallet between plastic wrap or parchment until evenly ¼ inch thin
- Rub meat pieces with seasoning mixture
- Put flour, eggs, crumbs each into a separate wide bowl or plate
- With the help of a fork, dredge the meat, one piece at a time into the flour, then coat with egg, then roll in the bread crumbs
- Heat the oil and lard in a large shallow frying pan
- When the oil has reached medium temperature, carefully place the breaded meat pieces in the pan and fry for about 2-3 minutes per side or about 4-6 mintues total. Be careful not to overcook and reduce the heat if necessary. Cook in batches if necessary but don't overcrowd the pan.
NutritionPer serving Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Fiber: 1.5g | Sugar: 1g | Iron: 3mg
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