Today is the 9th day of September, National Teddy Bear Day, National Care Bear Share Your Care Day, National Boss-Employee Exchange Day and National Wiener Schnitzel Day. While I love Teddy Bears, you can’t eat one. Share your care is great, something we all need to do every day. As for the boss-employee exchange, I’m retired. Besides, how many times do you think that happens? It might be a National Day, but I doubt it’s one that is observed across the country. That leaves us with National Wiener Schnitzel Day.
While I like a good hot dog same as the next guy, here in America Wienerschnitzel isn’t all about breaded veal cutlets but wieners, as in hot dogs. Since 1961, when an American hears Wiener Schnitzel, it’s one word, not two, home to the World’s Largest Hot Dog Chain. Quite the feat when you realize outside of America, there are only two location in the world – Guam and Panama.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Wiener Schnitzel beyond the hot dog chain, it is a classic Austrian veal dish traditionally served with a wedge of lemon. In German, Wiener refers to the city of Vienna, and Schnitzel means cutlet. Although the dish was named for a city in Austria, Wiener Schnitzel probably originated in France or Italy. Thanks to some adventurous cooks, the recipe traveled to Austria and by the late 1700s was firmly established as an Austrian dish. While today chicken or pork are acceptable alternatives to veal, veal is the choice when making Wiener Schnitzel. Anything else, while still delicious, is Schnitzel – usually a breaded pork cutlet, and not Wiener Schnitzel.
Traditional Wiener Schnitzel
4 (5-oz) Veal Cutlets
1/4 cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Paprika
Lard, for frying
Place cutlets between sheets of plastic wrap. Use a heavy, flat meat mallet, gently pound the meat evenly to ¼-inch thickness. Let the weight of the mallet do most of the work. Set aside.
Create a breading station with 3 shallow dishes or pie tins. Place the flour in one dish. Season with salt. Beat the eggs in the second dish. Spread the breadcrumbs in the third dish. Season with a little paprika.
Place a baking rack in a rimmed sheet pan. Set aside. This will be a resting station for the breaded cutlets.
Working with one cutlet at a time, dredge in flour on both sides until the surface is completely dry. Dip the cutlet into the egg to coat, allowing excess to drip off for a few seconds. Finally, quickly roll the cutlet in the breadcrumbs until coated. DO NOT press the breadcrumbs into the meat. The crust should not adhere completely to the cutlet but rather form a loose shells around the schnitzel. Place on the rack to rest and repeat with remaining cutlets.
In a large skillet, heat ¼-inch of lard to 350 degrees.
Place the cutlets into the pan with the hot oil, taking care not to over-crowd the pan. If necessary, cook in batches. It is important that the cutlets are allowed to “swim” in the hot fat. This will promote the topping to puff up a little. To make sure the meat is not sticking to the pan, swish them around a little with a fork. Let fry 3 or 4 minutes, until golden. When ready, carefully turn the cutlets over in the pan, continue to fry an additional 3 minutes.
Remove from pan with a slotted spatula, allowing the fat to drip back into the pan.
Wiener Schnitzel is traditionally served with lemon slices, a green salad and potatoes. A potato salad or steamed potatoes garnished with parsley are nice choices.