Now that the weather has turned cool, we start to crave comfort food. One of my favorite dishes to make in the fall and winter is schnitzel. This traditional German dish has so many varieties, and it is easy to make.
We recently hosted an Oktoberfest cooking class here at The Chopping Block, where the students learned all about this traditional dish made from breaded and pan seared veal cutlets, accompanied by Braised Red Cabbage, Spaetzle and Black Forest Whoopie Pies with Marshmallow Kirsch Filling. That menu is a true delight!
If you aren't a fan of veal or can't find it in your local store, you can use chicken breast or pork cutlets which are also very delicious.
Schnitzel translated from the German language means "sliver." It is meant to be a quick meal to share, because the tradition is to cut the veal into slivers and share it with others. Schnitzel is a piece of meat of your choice (veal is traditional) that is seasoned on both sided with salt and pepper, dipped in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and pan seared, golden brown on both sides, and served with a slice or wedge of lemon.
Since I was born in Germany, I've been making this dish my entire life, so I'd like to share a few tips to help you recreate it at home.
The first step is to make sure the meat is pounded out very thin, about one-eighth of an inch. It's important that the meat is tenderized, since you will be quick searing it in the pan so it's best to use a meat mallet. If you don't have one, we carry a very serious Rosle mallet at our retail store in Lincoln Square, but a rolling pin will also work. If you are using a chicken breast that is pretty thick, you should butterfly it, or cut the breast in half horizontally, which will make it easier to pound it out evenly.
I would also recommend using plastic wrap or parchment paper to protect the meat, otherwise it will rip apart easily, and be hard to work with. Once you have the meat pounded very thin, season it with salt and pepper on both sides, dredge it through the flower, then egg and finish with the breadcrumbs. When it comes to breadcrumbs, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. I typically use unseasoned panko, the Japanese-style breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs should be a fine texture, so they stick evenly to the meat, and once in the pan brown evenly as well. If you have larger pieces of breadcrumbs, they can burn easily.
I would also recommend using grapeseed oil for searing because it has a high smoke point and we want to make sure the breading doesn't burn. Once you flip the schnitzel, you can add a tablespoon of butter to finish and give it that extra flavor!
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Four 4- to 5-ounce veal cutlets
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, rough chopped
1. Season the veal with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Place the flour and eggs in separate shallow dishes. In a third dish, combine the bread crumbs and parsley.
3. Dredge the veal in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip each piece in the eggs and then transfer to the breadcrumbs to coat.
4. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the grapeseed oil.
5. Gently place the breaded cutlets in the hot oil, and cook until golden brown and crisp on the first side. Flip and repeat.
6. Continue to cook until the veal is just cooked through.
7. Serve hot with lemon wedges, parsley, or your favored side dish, braised red cabbage, or a side of sautéed mushrooms.
If you are interested in learning more traditional German comfort food dishes, The Chopping Block has once again partnered with Christkindlmarket in Chicago to bring you two different virtual cooking classes this holiday season.
Join me on Friday, December 3 at 6pm CST and learn how to make:
- Beef Rouladen (Rolled Flank Steak)
- Schupfnudeln (Potato Noodles)
Then, on Friday, December 17 at 6pm, we'll make:
- Pork Stew (Geschnetzeltes vom Schwein)
- Fresh Herb Spätzle
These virtual classes are being co-sponsored with Christkindlmarket, and The Chopping Block, so your class registration supports both of these organizations. Guten Appetit!