Germany: Wiener Schnitzel(ettes)

My mother is from the Rhine Pfalz in southern Germany. It’s the second city (or second to last, depending on your perspective) on the Weinstrasse. The town she was born in is called Gruenstadt and I’ve been there a number of times both with my parents and alone to visit my grandparents. My grandfather (Opa) died in 1998. He was a watchmaker. He was very cool. I loved him. My grandmother, Oma, is still alive and kicking. The other day, a friend of my mother’s took Oma out to dinner (she still lives in Gruenstadt, of course.) At the end of the meal, the waiter brought two shots of Sambuca (hello. What was he thinking?? She’s over 80 years old!). My mother’s friend decided to pass on the shot since she was driving. So my Oma, who has never wasted a single thing in her entire life—DRANK BOTH SHOTS. Did I mention that I had never seen her drink before and that she is over 80 years old?? You go. Oma!

Okay, so my favorite German recipe that my mother made when I was a child has got to be Wiener Schnitzel served with French Fries, or Pommes Frites, as they call them in the old country. It was always a big treat at our house, probably because of the fries, but also because it was the only time she ever put a lemon on our food. Kind of a novelty, I guess, which kids seem to love (well, most kids–not mine–not yet anyway.).

History. According to Wikipedia, Wiener schnitzel is pronounced veener, not weener (!) and schnitzel, not snitzel (!) and it means Viennese cutlet. It’s a traditional Austrian dish, but it is also served throughout Germany. Wiener schnitzel is traditionally served with a lemon slice. The dish may have originated in Milan, northern Italy, as cotoletta alla milanese, and may have appeared in Vienna during the 15th or 16th century. According to another theory, it was introduced by Field Marshal Radetzky, who spent much of his life in Milan, in 1857. The term “Wiener Schnitzel” itself dates to at least 1862. In the US, schnitzel could be equated to Chicken Fried Steak. Not surprisingly, Wiener Schnitzel has been popularized around the world:

  • In Argentina, the schnitzel is one of the most popular meals. Called “milanesa,” it is made from beef and also chicken, and is usually served with french fries.
  • In Australia, schnitzel is common pub food, and is usually made from beef or chicken, rather than veal.
  • In Brazil, schnitzels are known as filé à milanesa (Milanese steak). Served often with rice and brown beans, but also with French fries or mashed potatoes.
  • In the Czech Republic, schnitzel is knoiwn as smažený řízek and is made of pork or chicken. It is often served with boiled or mashed potatoes.
  • Lots of other places around the world–check Wikipedia if you’re interested.

My Recipe follows:

Two Veal Filets OR Two Chicken Breasts (the kids won’t know the difference)
2 Eggs
1 Cup flour
2 Cups bread crumbs
Salt and Pepper
Frying Oil

Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan–the oil should be deep enough for the schnitzel to float.
Pound the veal or chicken until it gives up or is thin, which ever comes first. Cut into bite size pieces (not traditional–this is the kids’ version).
Season your flour with salt and pepper
Season the bread crumbs with salt and pepper.
Dredge the pieces into the flour, covering both sides equally.
Dip the bite sized piece into the egg.
Gently dip the bite sized piece into the breadcrumbs–don’t press the crumbs in or else the coating gets too hard when frying.
Place several pieces in the hot oil until golden brown.

Traditionally, you should serve the Schnitzel with lemon slices. However, kids probably won’t go for that just yet. If yours do, consider yourself very lucky! Serve with fries or whatever starch your little munchkin loves.

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3 Comments

  1. Andrea said,

    June 12, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Hey girlie, my Mom used to use crushed up Corn Flakes for our schnitzel or crushed soda crackers. Yum!

  2. FoodyMom said,

    June 17, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Andrea…they do that a lot in the South from what I hear, not to mention the UK. My suspicion, however, is that Germans would decidedly not call it schnitzel if this method is used. Any Germans out there want to comment?? 🙂

  3. July 14, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Here is a good german SCHNITZEL recipe site.


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