Schnitzel Is Usually Overlooked & Underappreciated

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on April 24, 2010

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.comWhen I was younger, wiener (pronounced vee-ner) schnitzel was something my family would often make. We just called it schnitzel for short, and when it was on the menu, we made sure to get to the dinner table early before it all disappeared. The name may have you wondering exactly what this is, so let me just clarify that because it has the word wiener in it, this has nothing to do with a hot dog.  The word weiner gives a clue to the origin of this dish, which turns out is classically Austrian.  In this country, we know it as country fried steak or chicken fried steak that is served with gravy and is quintessentially some of the best comfort food you will ever eat. It is considered the national dish of Austria, and is enjoyed the world over for its  simplicity, ease of preparation and because it’s just downright delicious.

The basic elements of a traditional Schnitzel (pronounced sh-nitz-el) consists of a slice of veal that is pounded out to a thin sheet, that is then breaded and fried. It is traditionally served with a lemon slice, lingonberry jam or cranberry sauce and either potato salad or warm potatoes tossed with parsley and butter. Although the traditional version is made of veal, many people make it from beef, pork and even chicken. In Austria, the term Wienerschnitzel is protected by law, and any schnitzel called by that name has to be made from veal. There are also regional versions of Schnitzel, such as “Salzburger Schnitzel”, which is stuffed with mushrooms, bacon, onions, and other various herbs.

This is such a popular dish that there has been some serious debate over where schnitzel actually originated. Some claim that it originated in Milano (northern Italy), where it is known as Cotoletta alla milanese, although others say it appeared in Viennese cuisine in the 15th or 16th century. The term Wiener Schnitzel itself, dates to at least 1862.

I have made it with both pork and beef, and enjoy it immensely both ways. The pork yields a more tender product, but if you choose to use beef, have your butcher slice up some bottom round. When you come home, cut your portions down to a diameter of about 3 inches. Place each piece in a large plastic bag and use the flat side of a large mallet to pound it out. Try not to pound it out too thinly or the meat will become mealy and begin to fall apart. You still need to be able to pick up the entire piece when it’s time to add the breading. Make sure you use a sturdy wood/plastic cutting board to pound on so you don’t destroy your counter tops…

Schnitzel
Thinly sliced beef or pork (about 1- 1/2 pounds)
2 large eggs plus 1/4 cup water to thin out (plus pinch S&P)
1 cup all purpose flour
S&P (start with 1/4 teaspoon of each in the flour)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Vegetable oil for frying

Cut your meat into small 3″ portions, and place each piece one by one inside a plastic bag and pound with the flat side of a mallet until thin. Don’t pound so hard that the meat disintegrates, because then it will become very mealy. Make sure to use a thick wooden/plastic cutting board to pound the meat on. This tiny piece of meat…

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Becomes this large piece of meat when pounded out…

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Prepare them all in the same way…

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Prepare the egg/water mix in a bowl and set aside. Place the flour, S&P, garlic and onion powder in a large plate and mix well, then set this aside. In another large plate, place the breadcrumbs, dried parsley and the cheese, and mix all of this together also. Here is my assembly line…

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Once you have pounded out all of the meat, take each slice and dredge it in the flour, then dip it into the egg wash and then roll well in the breading, then place the breaded items on a clean plate. Once you have finished the first layer, add some more of the bread crumb mixture over these, and repeat until you have finished all of the meat. Refrigerate them for at least half an hour uncovered in the refrigerator, so that the breading has time to adhere to the surface. If you have extra bread crumb mix left over add it to the top of the pile before you refrigerate.

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

When you are ready to fry them up, heat your oil to a moderately high temperature and fry each piece until golden brown. Because the meat is thinly sliced, they will cook quickly, so keep an eye on them and make sure to cook both sides evenly. Drain them on a plate lined with a paper towel or on a sheet pan with a cooling rack inserted into it so that the breading stays crispy. We are not picky, and just use whatever is handy. If you have any leftovers, they make great sandwiches the next day. They can be served both warm or cold.

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Sometimes I buy 2 or 3 pounds of meat at a time and then bread everything all at once and freeze in plastic containers without cooking. I do put some plastic wrap or parchment between each layer so that they don’t stick together. This makes it easier to take out what you need for a quick meal. So moist and tender, you don’t really need a knife. Hope you enjoy these as much as I do…

Schnitzel Is Usually Overlooked & Underappreciated, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Schnitzel, Country Fried Steak, Chicken Fried Steak, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

www.goodfoodgourmet.com

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