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Gettin to be that time of "cool weather" year . . . a simple beginning repertoire

Wiener Schnitzel

2 lbs leg of veal, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
½ C fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ C flour
2 eggs beaten with 2 T water
1 C bread crumbs
6 T lard, butter, or vegetable oil
Lemon wedges for garnish

Combine the veal slices and lemon juice in a non-reactive bowl and marinate for 1 hour. Pat the cutlets dry and season with salt and pepper. Lightly coat the cutlets with flour, then dip in the beaten egg and coat with bread crumbs. Refrigerate for at least half an hour, or up to several hours. Heat the lard in a large heavy skillet over high heat until the surface shimmers and add the cutlets, 2 or 3 at a time. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.


The basic recipe for Wiener Schnitzel has many variations in addition to the use of beef, pork, or chicken as mentioned above.

Wiener Schnitzel Variations:
Cheese Schnitzel


Substitute 1/2 cup (125 ml) grated Parmesan cheese for half the bread crumbs in the recipe above.

Schnitzel a la Holstein

Prepare Wiener Schnitzel as above and top each with a fried egg with anchovy fillets laid across the egg, and a sprinkling of capers.
Hunter's Schnitzel

2 T lard or butter
1 onion finely chopped
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1½ C beef stock
1 T cornstarch mixed with ½ C sour cream

Heat the lard in a skillet over moderate heat and saute the onion and mushrooms until lightly browned. Add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream mixture. Spoon over the Wiener Schnitzels and serve immediately.
Almond Schnitzel

Substitute pulverized blanched almonds for the bread crumbs in the recipe for Wiener Schnitzel above. Alternately, top the Wiener Schnitzels with slivered almonds that have been sautéed in a little butter.
Cream Schnitzel

After cooking the Wiener Schnitzels according to the recipe above, deglaze the pan with ½ C water. Mix together ½ C sour cream and 1 T all-purpose flour and stir this into the water. Return the Schnitzels to the sauce and simmer covered - do not boil - for 5 to 10 minutes.

Paprika Schnitzel

Cook cream Schnitzel (above) but season the meat with paprika before frying and add 1 or 2 t paprika to the sauce.

The "chicken-fried" description refers to the fact that the meat is coated and fried in the same manner as chicken. Just about any meat can be done in this manner including pork, venison, buffalo, turkey, and yes, even chicken.

Chicken-Fried Steaks

4-6 eye-of-round, sirloin, or other beef steaks, tenderized by pounding with a meat mallet
Chili powder to taste
All-purpose flour for dredging
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten with
½ cup milk
Oil or bacon grease for frying

Season the steaks generously with chili powder and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Combine the flour with the salt and pepper in a shallow pan. Dredge the steaks in the flour mixture, dip into the egg and milk mixture, and coat with the flour mixture again. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat until a small piece of steak batter sizzles when dropped into the oil, about 350F. Fry the steaks 2 or 3 at a time until crisp and browned on both sides and the meat is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.


Originating chef’s notes:

A breaded cutlet is one of the 40 Fundamental Foods that is really more about a cooking technique than a specific dish. It's a technique used practically everywhere, and it has spawned dishes such as Wiener Schnitzel, milanesa, chicken cordon bleu, eggplant parmesan, and chicken-fried steak.

The technique common to all these dishes (and many more) is known as breading (or crumbing to some of my readers) and is usually a three-step process. The first step is to lightly coat a thinly cut portion of food in flour, followed by a dip in beaten egg, and then coating it in a layer of bread crumbs before cooking, usually by shallow frying. The theory behind the three-coat process is that the flour adheres naturally to the moisture in the food, and the egg adheres to the flour, and the final coating of bread crumbs adheres to the egg.

It is important to note here that any one or two of those steps can be omitted. For instance, many dishes such as veal Marsala are usually just dusted lightly with flour before cooking, and dishes called "alla Francese" in Italian cuisine are usually coated with flour and egg, omitting the final layer of bread crumbs. They are all variations on the same basic technique.

Note also that the food that is breaded can be just about anything. Most incarnations of the breaded cutlet found around the world involve meats such as veal, beef, and pork, but chicken and turkey (especially popular in Israel) are common. Also common are non-meat alternatives including eggplant, summer squashes, and soy-based products.

Just as the foods to be breaded can run the gamut of possibilities, so can the breading ingredients. Just about any liquid can be used in place of the egg layer, and the final coating of bread crumbs can be replaced with additional flour, cracker crumbs, cornmeal, grated cheese, or panko.

Given the vast number of foods and coating ingredients, the number of possible variations for breaded cutlets is, for all practical purposes, unlimited, so don't hesitate to apply the basic technique given above to your own unique combinations.

A southeast Florida laid back beach bum and volunteer bikini assessor who lives on island time. 
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