The Possibilities of Schnitzel

The German word "schnitzel" can refer to a variety of meats that are pounded thin, breaded and fried.

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August 15, 2016 4 min read

The German word “schnitzel” can refer to a variety of meats that are pounded thin, breaded and fried. Chefs around the world have adapted this basic concept to suit their particular cultures and tastes. Students in culinary academy can also experiment with different choices of meat and accompaniments for this popular dish. You will find there’s plenty of opportunity to give an old favorite a unique spin.

Schnitzel’s many flavors
Any schnitzel enthusiast will find there are versions featuring a wide range of main ingredients, sauces and garnishes. However, the most famous is the classic Austrian Wiener schnitzel. “Wiener schnitzel” is a geographically protected term in both the dish’s home country and Germany, indicating that it must be made with veal.

“‘Wiener schnitzel’ is a geographically protected term.”

According to the Austrian National Tourist office, traditional preparation calls for flattening the meat, coating it with bread crumbs and then frying in clarified butter – and sometimes vegetable oil – until it is golden brown. The veal is usually served with a lemon garnish and a side of cucumber salad or parsley potatoes.

The German variations on schnitzel take many forms, but pork is common. As the Daring Gourmet explained, it may come with just a garnish of lemon and parsley or an array of tasty sauces. Jagerschnitzel features a mushroom gravy, rahmschnitzel has a cream sauce and zigeunerschnitzel’s sauce is made with bell peppers, tomatoes and onion. The meat often comes with spatzle – a popular type of egg noodle – french fries or potato salad.

Schnitzel has also become a prominent part of the cuisine in Israel as well. In accordance with religious restrictions, the dish is usually made with chicken or turkey rather than pork. Epicurious provided a recipe for the dish as it is commonly served there from cookbook author Joan Nathan. She pointed out that Israeli schnitzel is made with only vegetable or soybean oil, rather than clarified butter, and may include various spice combinations. Among Yemenite Jews that often means using turmeric, cardamom, garlic, cumin and the ground spice blend hawaij.

Sauerkraut commonly accompanies schnitzel.Sauerkraut commonly accompanies schnitzel.

Great American schnitzels
Though you could travel the world sampling exceptional schnitzels, there are also many great takes on the dish available in the U.S. Borrowing from various culinary traditions, these versions can help you find your own way of preparing and serving pork, veal, chicken or other meats.

If you’re after classic, Austrian-style flavor, try the Milwaukee institution, Mader’s. There you can order your schnitzel with either pork or veal, and it comes with lemon, sauerkraut and spatzle. If you prefer, opt for Holstein style, featuring anchovies, capers and eggs. And for those who want a little of everything, the German sampler combines your schnitzel with kasseler rippchen (smoked and brined pork paired with sauerkraut) and Rheinischer sauerbraten (pot roast).

For German-inspired food in Chicago, you can visit The Radler. The pork loin schnitzel is available as a sandwich on a potato bun, topped by a chopped egg, greens, pickled celery relish and a plum and milk jam. On the other hand, customers can select a plate with four pieces of schnitzel, grilled lemon and sauerkraut.

Schnitzi Schnitzel Bar has two New York City locations as well as a food truck, all offering numerous options for lovers of chicken schnitzel sandwiches. Patrons can choose the French style with Dijon mustard or another with curry spice. Saveur passed along the recipe for the Spanish schnitzel, made with a basil and garlic pesto and red chimichurri. The sauce includes chili flakes, bell peppers, white and red wine vinegar, kosher salt, paprika, oregano, cumin, parsley and black pepper.

When supplies permit, The Optimist in Atlanta impresses guests with an unusual schnitzel: the wing of a skate, which is a type of ray. Chef Adam Evans told Bon Appetit that he seasons the fish with salt and pepper before breading it. Then, he sautes it in olive oil. The dish features a brown butter sauce, made with oil from the pan, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, capers and herbs.

The countless forms of schnitzel demonstrate how a particular dish can be adapted by chefs of all backgrounds to yield delicious results. As you take courses in an accredited online culinary program, you try out a few of these types of schnitzel and find one that fits your own cooking style.

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