Weiner Schnitzel is the national dish of Austria but here in the US many people refuse to eat because it’s made with veal.
The recipe is actually very old, dating back to at least the 15th Century. And it has influenced many other more popular dishes, including everything from Chicken Fried Steak to Chicken Fingers.
Replace the veal with a chicken breast and you have the basis for everything from Chicken Parmesan (topped with red sauce and mozzarella) to Chicken Cordon Bleu (stuffed with ham and cheese) to Chicken Kiev (stuffed with butter and parsley).
If you do the same thing with a beef steak, you have the basis for Steak Milanese. If you use pork, you have Pork Piccata (topped with a white wine/caper sauce) or Pork Cutlets.
In Austria, it is actually illegal to call this dish Weiner Schnitzel unless it is made with veal. In Germany, Weiner Schnitzel is commonly made with pork, but in Austria, where they take their schnitzel very seriously, you would need to call that Weiner Schnitzel von Schwein. And, really, who’s going to order that?
In Austria, like any place with a thriving dairy industry, there is a lot of veal. That’s because in order for dairy cows to give milk, they have to be pregnant and eventually they give birth.
Most veal is made from male calves of dairy cattle breeds. That’s because females can be used to give milk once they mature and you only need one full-grown male bull to provide semen for hundreds of cows. Sadly, the remaining male calves are obsolete.
The veal industry has been the target of animal activists for a long time. One of their biggest complaints is the common practice of maturing calves to be used for veal in hutches, which are tight stalls that prevent the calves from moving. This prevents their muscles from developing so their meat will be more tender.
An increasing number of veal farmers, however, are switching to free-raised or pasture-raised veal calves that roam freely with their mothers and herd.
When I decided to make Weiner Schnitzel I actually had trouble finding veal at any my usual grocery stores, probably because it’s not a big seller. I finally found a place that sold bone-in veal chops, so I bought one and deboned it myself.
While traditionally Weiner Schnitzel is served with new potatoes tossed in butter and parsley, I decided to serve mine Spaetzle, mostly so I could tell my wife we were having Weiner Schnitzel mit Spaetzle. I also served yellow squash from our garden, which I simply sauteed quickly in a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil with some zucchini and white onion.
I sauced it with a white wine-butter sauce with some capers thrown in at the last moment.
12 oz Veal Chop, bone removed (You can substitute pork if you wish, unless you live in Austria)
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 Egg, whisked
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
2 TBS Vegetable Oil
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
2 TBS Fresh Parsley, chopped (also from our garden!)
1 Lemon, cut into wedges
1. Cut veal chop into two equal peices. Place each peice between two peices of heavy plastic, such as two freezer bags, and pound with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy sauce pan until very thin. Season with salt.
2. Set up a three-stage breading station: Flour seasoned with salt and pepper in the first bowl, the whipped egg in the second, and the bread crumbs in the third. At the end of your breading station, set a sheet pan lined with wax paper. Dredge each peice of veal through the flour, then cover completely with egg, then dredge through the bread crumbs. Set on sheet pan until all the veal is breaded.
3. Preheat oven to 375F. Put a cast iron pan over a medium heat. When hot, add vegetable oil. Place the breaded veal peices into the pan, being careful not to splash yourself with hot oil. Fry until golden brown, then flip and brown the other side, about two minutes per side. When both sides are browned, place the entire pan in the oven and finish until cooked through, about another five minutes.
4. To serve, squeeze a little lemon juice over each peice and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve over potatoes or spaetzle.