While Wiener schnitzel is known as Austria’s national dish, the breaded and fried veal cutlet actually has roots in northern Italy. There, locals produce a similar specialty called Cotoletta alla Milanese. But because Wiener schnitzel (which is named after Wien, the German word for Vienna) is easy to prepare at home with a few ingredients, you don’t have to travel to Europe to enjoy it.
To make the comfort food, add veal cutlets, flour, eggs, breadcrumbs, lard or oil and lemon to your shopping list. You can also substitute chicken or pork cutlets — but according to Austrian law, you must use veal if you’re striving to make authentic Wiener schnitzel.
A tried-and-true recipe from The Spruce Eats for authentic Wiener schnitzel suggests dredging the thinly pounded veal cutlets (the calf meat should be about a 1/4-inch thick) in kosher salt-seasoned flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs before frying in hot oil or lard. According to the recipe, the key to a light and crispy coating is well-beaten eggs, a lean, evenly pounded cutlet and a hot frying temperature (350F). You want to make sure to avoid pressing the breadcrumbs into the meat — gently coat the cutlets instead.
The finished product should have a solid, audibly-crunchy exterior of breadcrumbs that doesn’t come off when you slice the meat. The specialty is best served with a German-style side. Options include potato salad, french fries, cucumber salad or spaetzle (small dumplings or egg noodles poached in water).
Wiener schnitzel is one of many fried cutlets, a dish beloved around the globe in different forms, that you can create at home. Try the Japanese tonkatsu or katsu, which is often made with panko breadcrumbs and accompanied by a sweet-sour sauce; Ukrainian chicken kyiv, a pounded chicken breast rolled around herb-infused butter and fried and Italian-American chicken parmigiana, a fried chicken cutlet crowned with red sauce and melted cheese.
Which cutlet will you fry up for dinner tonight?