Dish spotlight: Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener Schnitzel (“vee-ner-shnit-zel”), Austria’s national dish, might just be one of the easiest world-famous dishes you can learn to cook. With a fairly short list of ingredients and a repertoire of cooking techniques, even home-chefs-in-training can master this dish of breaded, fried veal cutlets.

The first thing to remember about Wiener Schnitzel is that, in order to be truly authentic, it has to be made from veal. If it’s made from pork or chicken, it might be equally delicious, but it can’t technically take on the famed name, which translates to “Viennese cutlet.”

The origins of the dish are disputed, with lots of back and forth over whether it is truly native to Austria, or an Italian import from centuries ago. But while scholars might quibble over the exact provenance, the fact remains that it was elevated to a culinary art form in Vienna.

To make Wiener Schnitzel, butterfly veal cutlets, dredge them in flour, then a mixture of eggs and heavy cream, then bread crumbs. The breaded cutlets are then fried in oil in a deep skillet – there should be enough oil in the pan to submerge the bottom of the cutlet. Spoon oil over the top as it’s cooking, and once the bottom side is golden brown, carefully flip the cutlet to cook the other side. Keep in mind that this doesn’t take long – your oil should be hot enough that it only takes a minute or two per side. Remove the cutlet and set it on a paper-towel lined baking sheet to drain off excess oil. Only cook one cutlet at a time to avoid crowding and ensure even cooking.

Wiener schnitzel is served with a garnish of curly parsley and lemon, and a simple salad and potatoes make great side dishes. As the Austrians say, “Guten Appetit!”

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