For the longest time I thought it was futile to write about the most Austrian of Austrian dishes... or what is commonly perceived to be an Austrian dish, as it apparently originates in Milan. I guess we're just very good at spotting talent and hyping it enough for everybody to believe we invented it - as is the case with goulash, apple strudel and many other dishes! Last weekend, though, when I was making these yummy breaded escalopes, it dawned on me that there are many things to say about the Schnitzel... and seeing that so many get it wrong, here's the dummies' guide to our beloved Wiener:
1) Yes, that's right. For us, a Wiener is an escalope, not a sausage. We call the sausages Frankfurters.
2) Let not the Germans fool you: a Wiener Schnitzel is NEVER to be served with, let alone in sauce.
3) You want your Schnitzel crispy and crunchy. No soggy shoe sole swimming in a pool of ready-made sauce mix.
4) The thickness of the escalope is a matter of personal preference. After a heated argument over our very first Schnitzels when we had just moved in together, I convinced my (now) husband that thin is beautiful. He's now a devoted Schnitzel flattener and evenly batters them down to no more than 3 mm.
5) If you're a fan of the breadcrumb-coating (my brother used to eat the crust first, before devouring his escalope "naked"), you can make it thicker by either double-coating them or omitting the milk from the egg-mix or, like for tempura, using potato flour instead of plain flour.
6) When it comes to eating your Schnitzel, never, ever make the mistake of asking for ketchup with your Schnitzel. Here's where even my daughter gets it wrong - and you think things of this importance would be in our DNA...
7) The only condiments allowed near a Schnitzel are lemon juice (to sparingly drizzle over - you want it to cut through the grease, but don't allow the breading to go soggy) and cranberry compote. If you want to avoid dropping pips on your meat, wrap the lemon in gauze for a "safety net"...
8) There's only one exception to the condiment rule: the Schnitzelsemmel! (see top picture). This Austrian version of a hamburger (some even eat it with ketchup and mayo, although I prefer my version with fresh tomato, mustard, salad and pickled chilli) is perfect for taking leftover Schnitzel to work the following day - and a great hang-over cure, too!
9) And finally, but most importantly: No matter how much (stingy) people might insist that you can make escalopes from pork, make no mistake: only a veal Schnitzel is a real Schnitzel!
500 g veal escalopes
ca. 50 ml milk
flour and breadcrumbs for the coating
500 g potatoes
50 g butter
1 handful parsley (finely chopped)
oil and butter for frying
Flatten the veal escalopes thoroughly to a thickness of your liking (I recommend 3-5 mm). Season with salt and pepper. Boil the potatoes until soft, then set aside, keeping warm.
To bread the escalopes, arrange 3 soup bowls next to each other on your work surface, filling one with flour, one with the eggs beaten up with the milk and one with the breadcrumbs. One by one, thoroughly coat the escalope with flour, then pull through the egg mix and finally coat with the breadcrumbs.
Heat some oil in a pan, about 5 mm high, add some butter taking care not to burn it, then fry the Schnitzels over a medium heat, turning over repeatedly in the process. Keep warm until you have fried all of them. Heat some butter in a pan, add the parsley and roll & reheat the potatoes in it.
Serve the Schnitzels with the potatoes, the cranberry compote and some salad.
Cut a crusty roll (or a baguette) in half, spread some mustard, ketchup and/or mayo on the bottom. Arrange some lettuce on there, top with the Schnitzel and some tomatoes, add gherkins or pickled chillies if you like.