Monday, March 26, 2012

The Infamous Weiner Schnitzel

At some point, you're going to get hungry in Austria. You're going to think yourself, "I could just do with the taste of something authentically Austrian." As you head back to your hotel, you will see, and quite possibly smell, a distinct frying smell. "Of course!" you will cry. "A wiener schnitzel is just what I want."

Now, if you're vegetarian, you probably won't even be thinking about a wiener schnitzel. However, for the meat eaters out there, the wiener schnitzel is a classic Austrian dish. It's very simple and consists of veal or pork that has been whacked with a hammer a few dozen times to thin it out, coated in breadcrumbs, and fried. It's often served with potatoes, traditionally a potato salad, although fries are often served instead.

The name wiener comes from the local spelling of Vienna – Wien. It really is as simple as that. In Austria, a wiener schnitzel must be made from veal. If it is made from pork, it is called a Wiener Schnitzel von Schwein.

There are dozens of variations of schnitzel throughout the world. However, the original comes from Vienna – and where better to enjoy an authentic Austrian recipe than in one of Vienna's many restaurants. Alternatively, you can make your own.

To make an authentic wiener schnitzel, you need a veal cutlet, flour, a small pinch of salt, a load of breadcrumbs, an egg, and some oil to fry it in. You also need some unrestrained beating.

First, you need to thin out the veal. You can either use a meat mallet or, and this is my preferred method, placed it between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound it with a very heavy pan. Try not to break the pan.

Once you've released any frustrations on the veal, it should be about quarter of an inch thick. Now, set up three bowls: one with flour and the pinch of salt, one with the beaten eggs, and one with breadcrumbs. For the oil into the pan and get it very hot. Dip each veal cutlet first into the flour, then into the eggs, and then into the breadcrumbs. Each coating should be very even for the best results. The oil in the pan should cover the schnitzel. Fry each side for about three minutes. If your pan isn't very big or if you have a lot of schnitzels to make, do them in batches. Crowding the pan causes problems.

Serve your schnitzels with a slice of lemon and a potato salad. Now you have a piece of Austria in your dining room!