Friday, September 9, 2011


It's Wiener Schnitzel Day!

No, this has absolutely nothing to do with Dachshunds, politicians, or certain bits of personal anatomy.

Wiener means "Veal" in German and Schnitzel means "Cutlet".
Not so complicated now is it??

It is hotly debated which came first, the Schnitzel or its Northern Italian counterpart, the Scaloppini. Personally, being from Northern Italy (insert sagely crooked finger gesture here) it most certainly originated in Milan somewhere during the 15th Century and immediately gained popularity northward, i.e. Austria and Germany.

So, with that said,

Scaloppini di Vitello Milanese
(Wiener Schnitzel, if you must)

FULL Recipe and The World's Largest Schnitzel after the JUMP!

  • Four (4) Veal cutlets, about 5 oz. (142 g.) each, pounded out to 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick
INGREDIENT NOTE : Traditionally, Veal is the meat of choice for this dish, however, Chicken or Pork can also be used as terrific and more economical options. See the VARIATIONS below for a slight technique change.
  • 1/4 cup All Purpose (AP) Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 cup Plain Bread Crumbs

INGREDIENT NOTE : We'll talk about so-called "seasoned" bread crumbs in the VARIATIONS section; they are evil.

  • Two (2) Eggs
  • Some freshly ground Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil or Lard for frying

INGREDIENT NOTE : Lard is the traditional and preferred fat for frying. Lard produces a better overall crispiness to whatever is fried in it; however, your cholesterol count is your business, so use what you like. Do not use Corn oil as it can break down too easily and become sticky and gummy. Personally, a Light Olive Oil, Peanut Oil, or Grapeseed Oil is what I go for.

Sandwich your Veal between two pieces of plastic wrap and place on a solid flat surface. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, a rolling pin, a two-by-four, a brick, the bottom of a cast iron skillet, or an empty Champagne bottle, pound out the Veal, working out from the centre, very thinly, to an even thickness of about 1/4-inch (6 mm). Go ahead, make lots of noise, frighten the neighbors, vent your frustrations at the world. Set your flattened cutlets off to the side. Now, you can purchase, at great expense, pre-pounded cutlets, but you won't get any satisfaction out of it.

After you feel better, line up three (3) shallow dishes or wide bowls.

Place the AP Flour and 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt into the first dish; mix well using a convenient dinner fork. Crack the Eggs into the second dish, add a pinch of Kosher Salt, a grind of Black Pepper, and beat together with the aforementioned convenient dinner fork. Place the Bread Crumbs into the third dish.

Take a large skillet, large enough to hold one or two cutlets at the most, and place over medium-high heat. Add enough Lard or Oil to fill the pan up to about 1/4-inch (6 mm). Let the skillet warm up until the fat reaches 350°F (177°C). An easy way to tell if your oil or fat is hot enough is to take a pinch of Bread Crumbs and sprinkle them into the pan; if they pop and sputter very quickly, the oil is ready, if they slowly sizzle, wait a few more minutes.

When the fat is hot, working one at a time, dredge each cutlet, first, in the Flour until the surface is completely dry. Then into the Egg mixture, just to coat, allowing the excess to drip off for a few seconds. Then roll the eggy-cutlet quickly into the Bread Crumbs until evenly coated. Do not press the Bread Crumbs into the meat. Place the breaded cutlet immediately into the skillet with the hot fat.

IMPORTANT TECHNIQUE NOTE : This is critical, do not crowd the pan. This is the first mistake that anybody who fries at home makes, the second one is not having the pan hot enough or too hot, but that's for another time. When doing scaloppine or schnitzel, if your pan only holds one cutlet, you're better off; merely cook each cutlet individually, in batches. Nobody will yell at you. By not over filling the pan, you insure that the fat does not cool down which makes for perfect, even, non-greasy frying.
The Scaloppini should float or "swim" in the oil or fat. Contrary to superstition, by bathing in the hot fat, the breading will absorb less oil than it would if it were sticking to the bottom of the pan. This allows the Bread Crumb coating to puff up a little making it crispier and easier to clean up, bonus!

Fry the scaloppini for about three (3) to four (4) minutes on the first side. Swirl the pan around and, using your convenient dinner fork, make sure that your scaloppini is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

After three (3) to four (4) minutes, turn the scaloppini over and fry it on the other side for about two (2) to three (3) minutes.

When the scaloppini is golden brown on both sides, remove it from the hot fat and place on a platter lined with paper towels to drain.

The scaloppine can be placed into a very low oven to keep warm or simply allowed to cool to room temperature for later. The choice is yours

Traditionally, Scaloppini is served simply with a sprinkle of finely chopped Parsley and a large wedge of Lemon.

Personally, I prefer a "hot and cold" approach. I like to serve my Scaloppine with a crisp salad of Baby Arugula, paper thin sliced Red Onion, and halved Grape Tomatoes dressed with salt, pepper, and plain Lemon Juice. The rich warm silky Scaloppini is a great textural and taste contrast to the crisp bitter bite of the cool salad. Pair it with a nice dry Prosecco, a lovely companion, and a view al fresco, and this can't be beat.

Since it is Schnitzel Day, Wiener Schnitzel is normally served with some Lemon slices and a German style (vinegar based, not mayonnaise based) Potato Salad and a simple Green Salad on the side.

These Scaloppine are also fabulous, cold, the next day or as a late night snack after a night out with "The Boys". These plain cutlets are the perfect base for Parmiggiano Hero Sandwiches (Veal Parm, guys, c'mon) as well as a topping for a luncheon pasta salad.

As I mentioned above, Chicken or Pork are fabulous options if you're against Veal or if Veal is beyond your budget. Both Chicken and Pork tend to cook more quickly than Veal, so merely shorten the cooking time. Obviously, Chicken Breasts are the primary choice for this, however, boneless Chicken Thighs can also be used. If opting for Pork, a Loin Roast is the easiest and very economical option.

About "seasoned" bread crumbs, I really don't know why people buy these things. They're plain old bread crumbs with a bunch of MSG, vague "flavorings", sawdust, and whatever else is around added to it. Just make 'em yourself. Take a can of plain bread crumbs, add a tablespoon of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and a fat tablespoon of dried Tarragon. Give it a mix and "Presto!", seasoned bread crumbs. Don't like Tarragon? Use dried Oregano, dried Basil, and granulated Garlic instead for "Italian" style bread crumbs. Add some Cumin powder and some Curry powder for "Indian" style bread crumbs. Use Herbes de Provence and make it French. Use Paprika and make it Spanish. See how easy it is? And, you didn't have to pay extra for it.

Have some fun with this!

Recipe ©2011 L. M. SorrĂ©, Wait At The Bar

If all of this isn't enough for you, you can order Schnitzel by the meter! That's right, in a restaurant in Germany, they've got a one (1) meter (40-inch) Schnitzel on the regular menu. But, this guy's going for the record, 1.6 meters (63-inches).

Here he is in action :

Sorry, the Audio is in German, like all good Schnitzels!

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