Germans love Wiener-Schnitzel and so do I. Presented by Chef Uwe, this classic recipe will have your tastebuds doing the happy dance once again. Follow along as Chef Uwe shows you how to prepare this classic German culinary delight.
What is Schnitzel?
The short answer, a thin slice of meat fried in fat. The meat is usually thinned by pounding with a meat tenderizer. Most commonly, the meats are breaded before frying. The breaded meat is popular in many countries and made using veal, pork, chicken, mutton, beef, or turkey. It is very similar to the dish escalope in France, tonkatsu in Japan, and the milanesa of Italy, Mexico, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, and chicken fried steak of the American South.
The designation Wiener Schnitzel first appeared in the 19th century, with the first known mention in a cookbook from 1831. In the popular southern German cookbook by Katharina Prato, it was mentioned as eingebröselte Kalbsschnitzchen (roughly, ‘breaded veal cutlets’).
The Classic “traditional” Wiener Schnitzel uses Veal. However, you may substitute with pork (sometimes referred to in Germany as Schweine-Schnitzel nach Wiener Art), chicken (Hühnerschnitzel), or turkey (Putenschnitzel). Also any kind of meat can be used, as long as you are able to pound it into a large, flat cutlet.
- 4 large Veal cutlet (pound it into a flat cutlet)
- Salt and pepper (season the meat before breading)
- Flour (for dredging)
- Egg wash (whole eggs scrambled with a little bit of milk)
- Finely-grated plain (breadcrumbs)
- Olive Oil (you may substitute with your favorite cooking oil)
- If your Schnitzel (cutlet) is not already thin (some stores or butchers do the work for you) you will need to use a kitchen mallet, pounder, or the bottom of a heavy flat skillet to pound each Schnitzel to about a thickness of 1/4″. Chef Uwe does not recommend a meat tenderizer because it may cause the schnitzel to fall apart.
- TIP: Place the meat between two sheets of heavy plastic wrap, like Saran Wrap. Pound the meat from the center of the cutlet out toward the edge until the meat is about 1/4″ thick. If you are preparing several schnitzels, it’s a good idea to do them all at the same time and them let them rest, covered, in the refrigerator until you are ready for the breading of the schnitzel. Don’t season the Schnitzel until you are ready to bread them. Salting them too soon can cause the meat to lose moisture and become dry.
- Breading the Schnitzel is a 3-step process, so prepare the coatings in separate dishes with sides to hold everything in.
- The coating process can get a bit messy so have paper towels, warm water, and soap close by.
- In the first dish place the flour
- In the second dish place the egg wash
- In the third dish, place the breadcrumbs
- Season the flattened meat with salt and pepper on each side
- The place the Schnitzel into the flour until it is completely coated in flour of both sides
- Next, place the meat into the egg wash
- From the egg wash, place the Schnitzel into the breadcrumbs so that the entire surface is well-coated. Use your hands to press the meat into the breadcrumbs
- Then put the breaded Schnitzel back into the egg wash
- Finally, place the Schnitzel into the breadcrumbs one more time.
- Once you have all the Schnitzels breaded and on a large plate, you may cover the Schnitzels and set them aside until you are ready to begin frying.
- Since it only takes minutes to fry a Schnitzel, make sure all your side dishes are ready to serve before you begin the final step.
- The final step is to fry the Schnitzel over medium to medium-high heat in a large saute pan with about one quarter inch of oil.
- Make sure the oil is hot when you place the Schnitzel in the pan.
- You want the Schnitzel to get golden-brown on both sides while cooking the meat until just done, but before it becomes dried out.
- Be prepared to raise or lower the temperature on the stove.
- Add butter to the pan once the Schnitzels are almost ready. Butter gives the Schnitzels a nice color and a great flavor.
- You can garnish the Schnitzel with lemon wedges and fresh parsley flakes, or “gourmet it up” by using Chef Uwe’s trick, or a slice of lemon, a small sardine, a few capers, and a sprinkle of parsley.
- Many Germans like to top of the traditional breaded Schnitzel with a cream mushroom sauce for a take on “Jägerschnitzel”, The classic Jaegerschnitzel is not breaded, but many people love the combination of a creamy sauce over a breaded Schnitzel.
- Others love to top Schnitzel with sunny-side-up egg.
- Still others love to drizzle a tangy, lemony sauce over their Schnitzel.
- Other variations include a slice of melted cheese, a tomato sauce, or some other complimentary topping.
In Germany, the term means cutlets in general, not just breaded, fried ones.
Similarly prepared dishes include cotoletta alla milanese, schnitzel cordon bleu filled with ham and cheese and Pariser Schnitzel. The American chicken-fried steak is often said to be closely related to Wiener schnitzel, the result of the adaptation of the recipe by German or Austrian immigrants to the Texas Hill Country to locally available ingredients.