How to make the famous Wiener schnitzel, the original Austrian schnitzel made from veal.
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.
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What is a Wiener Schnitzel?
The main and probably only difference between the Wiener Schnitzel and the German schnitzel 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); as 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 Austrian veal 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 is a creation of 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.
- Veal cutlets: An original Wiener Schnitzel is 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.
- Breadcrumbs: Fresh breadcrumbs.
- Dried ones are ok too. But if you want to keep it as close to the original as possible, use fresh breadcrumbs.
- Fat: You need a lot of fat to fry these schnitzels; if that puts you off, you could try baking them as I did in the case of the oven-baked schnitzels for burgers.
- I did bake two of the Wiener Schnitzel 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.
How to make Wiener schnitzel?
- Tenderize the cutlets with a meat mallet and season them generously with fine sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Bread the schnitzel just before frying them. Dust them with flour, and remove the excess. Dredge them through the beaten eggs, and coat them with the breadcrumbs.
- Fry them immediately in the hot oil. Place them on paper towels to absorb the excess fat.
Tenderize the meat: It's an important step; the pieces of veal need to be large and thin. However, take care not to overbeat them and tear the meat.
Oil temperature: It should be about 350°F/ 180°C; check with an oil thermometer. If you don't have one, check by inserting the end of a toothpick in the fat; you should be able to see bubbles forming around the toothpick.
Only start coating the next batch of schnitzels when the previous is almost done.
What to serve it with?
- You can serve the Austrian veal schnitzel with potato salad, boiled potatoes with parsley, or fries.
- When it comes to salads, try a mache salad with a light vinaigrette or a simple cucumber salad.
- Don't forget the lemon wedges and the ketchup and mayonnaise for the kids, especially if you are serving the Wiener schnitzel with fries.
More schnitzel recipes
- 4 large very thinly sliced veal cutlets (or 8 small ones)
- fine sea salt and black pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 4 slices day-old white bread more if needed
- vegetable oil or lard for frying
- Tenderize: Place the veal cutlets between two pieces of plastic foil and tenderize them gently using the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Sprinkle the cutlets with salt and pepper.4 large veal cutlets + salt + pepper
- Breading station: 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 or bread. Cube the bread, place the cubes in the food processor, and process until you obtain breadcrumbs. Place them on a large plate as well.2-3 tablespoon flour, 2 large eggs, 4 slices white bread or baguette
- Heat oil: Start heating the oil or lard in a large skillet. There should be enough fat inside 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 (Note 1).
- Coat schnitzel with flour, shake to remove the excess, drag through the eggs, and coat with the breadcrumbs. Press only very lightly.
- Start frying immediately after coating (Note 2). 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 place them on top of each other, or the coating will become soggy.
- Serve with potato salad or parsley potatoes, lemon wedges, and green salad.
- Or use an oil thermometer; the temperature should be 350°F/180°C.
- Only start coating the next batch of schnitzels when the previous is almost done.