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Wiener Schnitzel

A Wiener Schnitzel is a breaded veal cutlet. It is dipped in flour, egg, and bread crumbs, then fried in butter or oil to a golden brown. It is traditionally served with a lemon wedge, which you can use to drizzle fresh lemon juice over the schnitzel.

A note to those who are not so familiar with German cuisine ... if you are in a German restaurant and do not know what to select off the menu, start with a Wiener Schnitzel. You will not be let down. It is delicious!

 
Schnitzel Variations

The Wiener Schnitzel, by definition, is made with veal. However, today many German restaurants will offer a "Schnitzel" using different meats while still following the preparation techniques of the Wiener Schnitzel (dipped in flour, egg, and bread crumbs, and fried in butter or oil to a golden brown). You may see this called "Wiener Art," meaning it was prepared like a Wiener Schnitzel, but the meat is not veal.

The following variations are typically offered by German restaurants.
   
Schweine-Schnitzel A breaded pork cutlet. These are usually made with thin pork loin cutlets (also known as Scaloppini).
   
Puten-Schnitzel A breaded slice of turkey breast. Lower in fat and a milder taste than the veal and pork schnitzels.
   
Hänchen-Schnitzel A breaded, boneless, skinless breast of chicken. Lower in fat and a milder taste than the veal and pork schnitzels.
   
 
Schnitzel with Toppings or Fillings

In addition to different types of meat, a schnitzel can also be served with a topping. Here are some of the most common schnitzel and topping or filling combinations.

Jäger-Schnitzel This is a veal or pork schnitzel topped with a burgundy-mushroom or a creamy-mushroom sauce. Traditionally, this schnitzel is prepared without flour, egg, and bread crumb coatings. However, you will often find a breaded schnitzel (made according to the Wiener Schnitzel method - "Wiener Art") topped with the sauce.
   
Zigeuner-Schnitzel This is a schnitzel with either a bread-crumb or flour coating covered in a sauce of red peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoe-paste, red wine, and chicken broth. The meat can be either veal, pork, turkey, or chicken. However, traditionally, this is made from pork..
   
Paprika-Schnitzel A schnitzel topped with a tomato-based sauce seasoned with paprika and red-peppers. The meat can be either veal, pork, turkey, or chicken.
   
Käse-Schnitzel A schnitzel covered in melted cheese. The meat can be either veal, pork, turkey, or chicken.
   
Rahm-Schnitzel A schnitzel covered in a pepper-cream sauce. The meat can be either veal, pork, turkey, or chicken.
   
Schnitzel Holstein A schnitzel topped with a fried egg, onions, and capers. The meat can be either veal, pork, turkey, or chicken. This is a specialty of Berlin.
   
Cordon-Bleu This dish came from Switzerland. It is a schnitzel stuffed with ham and cheese. The meat can be either veal, pork, turkey, or chicken. However, traditionally, this is a veal cutlet.
   
Parisian Schnitzel A classic dish from France. This is a schnitzel made without bread crumbs. A veal cutlet is pounded thin, dipped in flour then in egg, then fried to a golden brown.
   

Tips for Preparing a Wiener Schnitzel

Schnitzel Ingredients
Photo: © Carmen Steiner - Fotolia.com
    
    
The standard ingredients needed to make Wiener Schnitzel are veal cutlets (sliced thin, also called "veal scallops"), egg(s), flour, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. The bread crumbs should be fresh and unseasoned. You can easily make bread crumbs from dried bread. Put the bread in a food processor to finely grate the bread.

Pound Schnitzels thin
Photo: © Helena Harms - Fotolia.com
    
The veal cutlets should be pounded thin. This helps to tenderize the meat. Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper.

Set up 3 plates side by side. One one plate add flour. On the next plate, scramble the egg(s). On the third plate add the bread crumbs. Dip the a veal cutlet in the flour. Only a thin layer of flour should be on the meat so remove any clumps if necessary. Dunk the veal cutlet quickly in the egg, then immediately coat the meat with bread crumbs. Do not press the bread crumbs onto the meat. Gently shake off any extra bread crumbs. Immediately place the coated meat in a frying pan with hot oil. There should be enough oil in the pan so that the Schnitzel "swims." When both sides of the Schnitzel are golden brown, remove the meat from the oil and place on paper towels so that excess oil drips off. Serve immediately.

For best results, use a combination of butter and oil (either peanut oil or vegetable oil) to fry the Schnitzel. Use medium heat when frying the Schnitzel. The oil should be hot enough to brown the Schnitzel in 3 minutes - but not too hot that it burns the crust.

When done correctly, the coating is crisp and brown but doesn't stick to the veal. You should be able to slide a knife between the meat and the coating. The trick to this is to fry the Schnitzel immediately after it has been coated with bread crumbs. Letting the breaded veal sit before frying it causes the coating to stick to the meat.



Wiener Schnitzel
Photo: © uckyo - Fotolia.com




Jäger-Schnitzel
Photo: © Stephanie Eckgold - Fotolia.com


Schnitzel History

"Wiener" means Viennese (from Vienna) in German. As the name suggests, the Austrians are accredited with the creation of the Wiener Schnitzel. The Wiener Schnitzel was perfected by the Austrians to become the delicious dish known today by every German and found in most German restaurants. However, the origin of the Schnitzel actually goes back to the 7th century Byzantine Empire.

The story goes that the Kaiser Basileios I (867-886AD) prefered his meat covered with sheets of gold. And what he liked soon became popular with the wealthy. But, this practice became too expensive, so an alternative was created - "yellow gold" (bread crumbs).

Over the years, the use of bread crumbs in coating meat spread to neighboring lands. It was in Milan, Italy, in the 1800's where the Austrian Joseph Graf Radetzky discovered a dish called "Costoletta alla Milanese" - a thick veal cutlet, coated with bread crumbs, and sauteed in butter. Radetzky, who was commander over the Austrian troops in Italy (1831 to 1857), reported military, political, and even culinary information back to the Austrian Kaiser.

It was in Vienna that the recipe and technique was further perfected. Today, the large veal slices are a uniform finger-width thick. It is pounded thin, dipped in flour, egg, and bread crumbs, and fried in butter or oil to a beautiful, golden brown color.




Golden brown Wiener Schnitzel
Photo: © Elkeflorida - BigStockPhoto.com




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