You know the expression "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach"? This dish is how I got my husband to fall in love with me.
My husband was born in Vienna, Austria. He's lived in the United States most of his life, but has spent large amounts of time back "home". When we met, in an attempt to impress him I told him I loved Wiener schnitzel. At that time, I had never had it. I had read Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl, and I knew there was a recipe for it in there that I'd read, but off the top of my head I wasn't entirely sure what was even in the dish.
Weeks went by and I was smitten with this man. I made him dinner a few times, but I held out on making schnitzel. Then, one night his dad came into town for the funeral of a family friend and I invited both of them over for dinner. (I had no idea I was cooking for my future father in law!!) I decided to make it with Ruth Reichl as my guide. I worried that I was serving it to two natives. I anticipated polite "mmmm"s. But it was a success. They both raved that it was as good as at any cafe in Vienna and I have barely wavered from the recipe since.
Schnitzel is basically a milanese. It is a form of the word schneiden, which means "to cut". Wiener Schnitzel translates to "Viennese cutlet". This recipe calls for veal, but you can substitute any thinly sliced and pounded meat such as chicken, turkey or pork. A classic schnitzel in a Viennese cafe is served with a gemischter salat (green salad, cucumber salad and potato salad). Don't forget a wedge of lemon, too.
*the best tip here is to let your breaded meat rest for an hour before cooking. Before this recipe, every time I ever made a Milanese or chicken Parmesan, all my breading would fall off as it cooked. The resting period will ensure that doesn't happen.
adapted from Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl
- 1 1/2 pounds veal cutlets
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup finely ground bread crumbs
- salt and pepper
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 6 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 lemon
Pound each cutlet thin between two pieces of waxed paper.
Place flour in a flat dish large enough to hold a cutlet. Place beaten egg in another dish, bread crumbs in a third. Season each with salt and pepper.
Dredge cutlets in flour. Dip into beaten egg. Dip into bread crumbs until thinly but thoroughly coated. Place on waxed-paper covered platter and place in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Add tablespoons butter and oil to a large skillet until hot. Brown the cutlets on each side until golden. Remove to a paper towel lined platter. Serve immediately.