Wiener Schnitzel: The Original Austrian Recipe
For a hearty, simple dish, you can’t go wrong with the Wiener Schnitzel. This traditional Austrian cutlet is a great winter warmer with boiled potatoes, or summer dinner with green salad.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make Wiener Schnitzel at home, or what the history of this tasty dish is, read on.
History of the Wiener Schnitzel
The Wiener Schnitzel is a thin, breaded, deep fried cutlet, traditionally made from veal. ‘Wiener’ literally means ‘Vienna’, and today it’s Austria’s national dish.
Wiener Schnitzel first appeared in the nineteenth century. According to legend, an Austrian field marshal, Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, brough the recipe from Italy to Austria in 1857.
In 2007, though, this story was proven to be false. In fact, something similar to Wiener Schnitzel appeared in the earliest surviving Roman cookbook, which was published in the fourth or fifth century by an author who goes by ‘Apicus’.
Breaded and fried veal was also a popular meal in the Medieval era—especially in an area of Northern Italy that, today, is Austria.
Veal wasn’t always on the menu, though. Before Wiener Schnitzel, Austria was home to another popular fried dish, this one made from thin chicken breasts.
The veal version of the dish was finally referred to as “Wiener Schnitzel” in 1862, and it’s been an Austrian stable ever since. In fact, so ubiquitous is Wiener Schnitzel in Austria that Germans sometimes affectionately refer to their neighbors as “schnitzelfressers”, which literally means “schnitzel-munchers.”
Although veal is less popular today than it was in the nineteenth century, Wiener Schnitzel is still eaten in Austria and beyond, often with pork and chicken instead.
How to Make Your Own Wiener Schnitzel
If you’re a fan of the classic Austrian dish, why not try this wiener schnitzel recipe at home? Below we run through how to make schnitzel.
You will need:
- 4 veal cutlets, 5 ounces each (you can also use pork or chicken cutlets, pounded to ¼ inch thickness)
- ¼ cup of all-purpose (plain) flour
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ½ cup of breadcrumbs
- Lard or oil for frying (lard is the more traditional option)
How to Make It
- First of all, you’ll need to shape your cutlets. To do this, first place them between two sheets of plastic wrap. Next, pound them down to ¼ inch in height, using a meat mallet. If you don’t have a meat mallet, the bottom of a flat-surfaced pan will work just as well.
- After this, you’ll need to bread the schnitzels. First of all, arrange three dishes. Put the flour in one, the breadcrumbs in a second, and the eggs, beaten, in the third. Meanwhile, heat ¼ inch of oil or lard in a large skillet.
- Now prepare the cutlets. Coat each cutlet in flour, before dipping it into the beaten eggs. Hover the cutlet above the egg bowl for a few seconds to allow the excess to drip off. Roll the floured and egg-washed cutlet in breadcrumbs gently until coated. Don’t press the breadcrumbs into the meat, since an authentic schnitzel has a relatively loose shell.
- After each cutlet it breaded, place it into the skillet immediately. Fry each schnitzel for 3-4 minutes per side. Make sure that there’s enough oil or lard in the pan for each cutlet to ‘swim’ in fat. The meat will be less oily if it’s not sticking to the pan. To ensure there’s no sticking, you can also swirl the cutlets around with a fork briefly.
- When the schnitzels are ready, they should be golden brown on both sides. After cooking, remove them from the pan, and allow the oil to drain off. You can also use a kitchen towel to dab away any excess oil. Finally, serve.
Ways to Serve Your Wiener Schnitzel
In its native Austria, this dish is typically served with some form of potatoes, but really anything goes. Below are a few great accompaniments for your wholesome home-made schnitzel:
- Potato salad
Potato salad is a great traditional accompaniment to Wiener Schnitzel. To make the perfect potato salad, boil 2 pounds of waxy potatoes for 20 minutes, before draining and cubing. Next, cook the bacon in a pan until crispy and set aside for later. Add some chopped onions to the bacon drippings and cook them until soft and brown. Sprinkle a little flour over the onions to form a roux. Cook for one one minute, then add a sprinkle of salt and celery seed. Add a cup of water gradually, stirring continuously. Add about half a cup of vinegar and bring to the boil for two minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finally, add the potatoes and crumbled bacon. Stir until heated through and move to a bowl. Serve warm, sprinkled with chopped chives.
- French fries
Fries go with just about everything, and Wiener schnitzel is no exception. Oven fries work fine, but for something a little bit special, you can make your own at home. To do this, peel and slice some baking potatoes into strips, before soaking in iced water for about an hour. Next, drain the stirps and pat dry with paper towels. Heat vegetable oil in a heavy pot, and add a thermometer. Heat the oil to 370 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, you can use an electric deep fryer. Lower about two handfuls of fries at a time into the hot oil, and fry for 3-4 minutes, until tender and golden brown. Fish out and dry on a paper towel.
- Green salad
For something a little lighter, you can serve your Wiener Schnitzel with a green salad. Throw together leafy greens, sliced tomatoes, and sliced cucumber.
- Cucumber salad
Another traditional accompaniment is cucumber salad. To make this easy side, slice cucumber into very thin slices, and add to a dressing of vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add a few red onion rings and chopped dill.