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Austria’s Wiener Schnitzel: Simple and Simply Delicious

Wiener SchnitzelIf you order Wiener Schnitzel, Austria’s national dish, you will get a thin piece of breaded veal, pan fried to golden brown perfection. After one bite you will probably wonder how Viennese cuisine has managed to transform such a simple dish into a truly elegant main course.

Food with History

Legend has it in 1857, that the recipe for Wiener Schnitzel was brought to Vienna from Italy by an Austrian field marshall named Joseph Radetzky von Radetz. Unfortunately, this story has since been debunked, and historians now believe that Radetz brought home a recipe for cotoletta alla Milanesa, not Wiener Schnitzel.

The dish may have its roots in the method written about by Apicus in the 1st century, BC. Apicus wrote about tenderizing meat by pounding on it – a process that is faithfully followed in preparing Wiener Schnitzel. There is evidence that as early as this period, the Romans pounded veal into thin pieces, dredged these in breading and fried them.

Food experts insist that the cotoletta alla Milanesa is a dish distinct from the Wiener Schnitzel. The cotoletta is a veal chop with the bone it, the schnitzel is totally boneless.Today, the name has become protected by law, and if you want to call a dish Wiener Schnitzel, you have to make sure you use veal as meat.

Learning from a Master

In Bon Appétit’s Wiener Schnitzel, Kurt Gutenbrunner, New York City chef and author shares his recipe and his method for creating a perfect Wiener Schnitzel for your guests. For four servings, Guttenbrunner’s recipe calls for four pieces of veal scallopine (or eye of round) cut across the grain. This is seasoned with salt ans freshly ground black pepper.

For his breading, Guttenbrunner uses a cup of all-purpose flour, three teaspoons of kosher salt, two large eggs, two tablespoons of heavy cream, and two cups of plain bread crumbs. He whisks the flour and salt together in one bowl, and in another bowl, he combines the eggs and the cream. A third shallow bowl contains the breadcrumbs seasoned with two teaspoons salt.

To get things going, Guttenbrunner gives the following instructions:Pound veal slices between sheets of plastic wrap to 1/8”–1/16” thickness, being careful not to tear. Season lightly with salt and pepper…

“Dredge 2 veal slices in flour mixture; shake off excess. Dip in egg. Turn to coat; shake off excess. Dredge in breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere; shake off excess. Transfer slices to skillet. Using a large spoon, carefully baste the top of the veal with the hot oil. Cook until breading puffs and starts to brown, about 1 minute. Turn and cook until browned, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet.”

Interesting Ways to Serve Schnitzel

Although the classic Weiner Schnitzel is supposed to be made of veal, schnitzel variations have been prepared by cooks for generations. You can make schnitzels out of pork, chicken, beef, or turkey. Instead of using plain salt and pepper to season the dish, you can add Parmesan to your breading. You can serve your schnitzels with coleslaw, or look for some sophisticated side dish to enhance your meal. Best of all, you can have a ball plating your schnitzels so that they look as if a professional chef took charge of your kitchen.

Wines to go with Wiener Schnitzel

The perfect wine for your Wiener Schnitzel would be a German wine such as a 1985 domanenweingut Schloss Schonborn Winkeler Hasensprung Riesling cabinet. However, whatever wine you choose, just bear in mind that this dish is best enhanced by a wine that balances acids with sweetness.

In Weiner Schnitzel, The Wine Enthusiast recommends Grüner Veltliner, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc as excellent pairings. But the good news is Weiner Schnitzel also goes great with beer! That makes it the dish for just about everyone.

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