I have been having a 'discussion' with my wife about what constitutes a perfect schnitzel. Indeed the question even arose as to what was a schnitzel. Can it have a bone? Must it be veal to be the real thing, would yearling beef be OK, and what about chicken. How thin should it be and what about the coating. . Can 1001dinners survive in ignorance? Chowhounders, come to our rescue.
Schnitzel is my FAVORITE!!! Wiener Schnitzel is usually veal. I have used pork, beef and chicken as well. The cutlet is boneless and pounded flat. Dredged in seasoned flour, dipped in egg and then dredged in the flour again and fried in butter until golden on both sides. That being said.... I make schnitzel now by dredging in flour, dipping in egg, dredging in the flour then dipping it in egg again and then a final coating of panko. Yes it is not traditional but I like a nice thick very crispy schnitzel. This is placed over a serving of spaetzle and one of a few different sauces. Sometimes a nice savory chicken stock based gravy , sometimes Hollandaise sauce and sometimes jaeger sauce.
Bone: never, it must be boneless. As for the type of meat, traditionally it's veal, though nowadays it can be veal or pork (except in Austria, where BY LAW it must be veal. They take their Wiener Schnitzel seriously!). Anything else is not schnitzel, it's just a pounded, breaded meat cutlet.
The pork version is often referred to as "schnitzel Wiener style" ("Schnitzel Wiener art" in German) to distinguish it from the original veal version.
Of course, in America people can (and do) call anything they want any name they want, but if you want to know what it REALLY is, that's it.
Just to clarify the Austria statement. It doesn't have to be veal by law, but it may only be called Wiener Schnitzel in a menu if its veal. You may call it "Wiener Schnitzel made from pork" or whatever meat you use though. So essentially the law is in place to make sure people get the original recipe when they order it in a restaurant. Today even in Vienna, most Schnitzels sold are pork due to the lower cost compared to veal with chicken and turkey variations gaining popularity because of health reasons.
this is cervantez reporting live from vienna
Schnitzel, as folks have pointed out here, can be any meat pounded thinly, no bones, and it doesn't even have to be breaded.
Wiener Schnitzel is veal, if it isn't, it can only be called "Wiener Art", as BobB pointed out. The Wiener Schnitzel also generally has a little decor of a slice of lemon, an anchovy filet, and some cranberry jam.
I don't buy veal unless I can get pasture-raised, so I generally use chicken breast, which turns out just lovely. Pound very thinly, do the seasoned flour (I add a lot of paprika for flavor and color), egg-wash, panko dip, and fry golden brown. I love serving it with bratkartoffeln aka sauté or homefried potatoes and a simple green salad. And plenty of lemon wedges, as I love a generous squirt of lemon on my schnitzel, and extra salt, since the breading soaks up lemon and salt like nothing else.
Damn, I gotta make that again soon.
In many countries (especially Spanish speaking) pounded and breaded meat is called 'Milanesa' - referring of course to the Italian city. Some stories trace the Austrian version back to Italy.
The German word is a diminutive form of 'cut', the equivalent of the English 'cutlet'.
The German edition of Wikipedia has an entry for 'Berliner Schnitzel' - slices of cooked cow udder, breaded and fried. I also deduce from the German Wiki that ' Kalbsschnitzel' is the full German term for veal cutlet (and Schweineschnitzel is the pork cutlet).
And 'Cotoletta alla milanese' is the Italian equivalent, but with the bone-in.