Here is the mother-of-all schnitzel, if I can use this expression when talking about food. The real, original Wiener Schnitzel, an Austrian classic, the upper-class version of the popular German schnitzel, finer and more delicate than the German version (I like the German version just as much, but there is a difference, of course), but also three times as expensive.
The main and probably only difference between the Wiener Schnitzel and the German one is the meat we use: veal for the Wiener original and pork for the German version. The name Wiener Schnitzel is actually protected by law, meaning that only schnitzels made with veal can be called Wiener Schnitzel. It is not something we eat often (OK, it was the first time), like I’ve said, veal is pretty expensive and actually not so easy to come by. I had to order the meat in advance at the butcher’s in order to make the schnitzels.
The origin of the Wiener Schnitzel is controversial. Some sources claim it to be a better version of the Cotoletta alla milanese (which are basically breaded chops), brought to Austria by the field marshal Radetzky sometime during the 19th century. Other sources claim this to be just a legend and insist the Wiener Schnitzel to be a creation of the Austrian cuisine, which has an affinity for fried goods anyway. Where the truth lies is not important, I think. I am sure the Italians love their cotoletta alla milanese just as much as the Austrian people love their Wiener Schnitzel, and I would never say no to any of the two versions.
When making the German schnitzels I used dry breadcrumbs. When making the Wiener, I decided to go all the way and use fresh breadcrumbs instead. I liked it both ways, so I wouldn’t mind if you decide to go the quicker way and use the dry ones in this case as well. But if you want to keep it as close to the original as possible, use fresh breadcrumbs. You need a lot of fat to fry these schnitzels, if that puts you off, you could try baking them like I did in the case of the oven baked schnitzels for burgers. I did baked two of the Wiener Schnitzels as well, just to see how it works, and it works (maybe a tad less crispy), if I ever make them again, I won’t bother with the frying anymore, even if that is the original recipe. I prefer to have less fat.
An original Wiener Schnitzel is also very large, ideally a bit larger than the plate it is served onto. I could not achieve that, as the ordered schnitzels only came in small. But they were delicious anyway.
Otherwise, you can serve the schnitzels the traditional Austrian way with potato salad or parsley potatoes. Or you can have them with fries or even spätzle.
- 4 large, very thinly sliced veal schnitzels (or 8 small ones)
- salt and pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs (1 more if necessary)
- 1 long day-old baguette
- vegetable oil or pork lard for frying
- Place the schnitzels between two pieces of plastic foil and tenderize them gently using the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper.
- Place the flour on a large plate and beat the eggs very lightly in a shallow, large bowl.
- Remove and discard the crust of the baguette. Cube the bread, place the cubes in the food processor and process until you obtain breadcrumbs. Place them on a large plate as well.
- Start heating the oil or lard in a large skillet. There should be enough fat inside in order for the schnitzels to be able to “swim”. Check the temperature by inserting the end of a toothpick in the fat, you should be able to see bubbles forming around the toothpick.
- Coat the schnitzels with flour, shake to remove the excess, drag through the eggs and coat with the breadcrumbs. Press only very very lightly. Start frying them immediately after coating. Fry shortly until both sides are crispy and golden brown. Remove from the skillet and place on a double layer of paper kitchen towels, which will absorb the excess fat. Do not put them on top of each other or the coating will become soggy.
- Only start coating the next batch of schnitzels when the previous is almost done.
- Serve with potato salad or parsley potatoes, lemon wedges and green salad.
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