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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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      4 Replies
      1. re: BobB

        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

        1. re: CervAnteZ

          Danke, Cervantez! I had forgotten about turkey cutlets. Definately not the same as veal, but they work up very well. We are planning sa trip to Germany at the beginning of December, and I am looking forward to vieler köstlich schnitzel.

          1. re: PattiCakes

            Oh, nice! Where in Germany are you headed? Not that you can't get schnitzel pretty much anywhere...

            1. re: linguafood

              Mostly Bavaria. One day in Munich, 4 in Garmisch, then a boat trip down the Rhine from Basel & stopping at Strasbourg, Koblenz and Rudesheim along the way to visit the Kristkindelmarts. End in Frankfort.

      2. 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.

        1 Reply
        1. re: linguafood

          I agree with all you've said, and I prefer mine sauteed in butter with just a bit of olive oil.

        2. veal and with a fried egg.....ala holstein

          1 Reply
          1. 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.

            1. True schnitzel is a cutlet or paillard of veal that is sliced very thin -- or sliced thin and pounded thinner -- then dipped in egg wash and bread crumbs, dropped into VERY hot fat so that the bread crumbs brown and crisp almost instantly, turned, then drained lightly and plated. A true schnitzel is always veal, but a Wiener schnitzel can also be pork. The traditional way to serve is immediately with thin slices of lemon on top and a dusting of chopped parsley. Lots of people love schnitzel Holstein, topped with an egg. Not my favorite because, though I love eggs, the yolks tend to make the schnitzel soggy and that's not my favorite way to eat this delicious dish.

              When other meats such as calf (older than veal), beef, chicken, turkey or kangaroo, for that matter, are prepared in this manner, they are simply "breaded cutlets," or "breaded paillards." A cutlet and a paillard are the same thing, but "paillard" is a very old term that is now regaining popularity.

              So, to clarify all of this confusion, a breaded veal cutlet is, by definition, a schnitzel, but a breaded chicken cutlet is just that, a breaded chicken cutlet. But as someone has pointed out above, when it comes to gastronomic terminology, in America, "anything goes." <sigh> I hate it when that happens!

              11 Replies
              1. re: Caroline1

                Actually, you can call both a chicken or a pork breaded cutlet schnitzel. Just not Wiener Schnitzel.

                PS: And the traditional way to serve the Wiener incarnation is with lemon slice, anchovy, and cranberry relish or jam.

                1. re: Caroline1

                  What is 'true schnitzel' in German? :)

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    No, a breaded chicken cutlet is 'Hähnchenschnitzel' :)

                    Some of those same sources say that Hamburger Schnitzel is the one with egg, while Holsteiner Schnitzel is the one with egg and anchovy.

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      My German is rusty but I think Schnitzel comes from Schnitz or a cut (of meat) or cutlet in German. So other than weiner (vienna) schnitzel which refers to veal specifically and is a dish, a schnitzel can be made of anything.

                      Paulj---You mention Hähnchen Schnitzel which I have definitely heard for chicken schnitzel in Bavaria. Is it the same in other German dialects?

                      To sum up Schnitzel just means cutlet. This can then be had in various dishes.

                      The same as Katsu in Japanese which I believe derives from the English word cutlet as a loanword to the language. Japanese Katsu is usually pork or chicken. Katsudon is a fantastic lunch.

                      In Spanish speaking countries Milanese basically means the same dish.

                      1. re: MVNYC

                        Yes, it's Hähnchenschnitzel in all of Germany.

                        1. re: MVNYC

                          A "schnitz" is a cut. There's a very traditional Pennsyvania German dish called Schnitz und Knepp, where the schnitzen are thin slices of dried apple. The other ingredients are ham and dumplings (the "knepp"). I've even heard the term "schitzel" refer to a small piece of anything, like a scrap of paper: example: "Let me write down your phone number of this schnizel of paper."

                          1. re: PattiCakes

                            Well, a cut in German is "Schnitt", but perhaps the schnitz is a PA German thing. I don't understand most of what the Amish are saying, btw.

                            1. re: linguafood

                              I've always liked Schnitz Malt Liquor.

                              1. re: linguafood

                                Yah, PA German is a real conglomeration -- part German, part Swiss, part anything to make it so the English don't understand.

                        2. Sounds like the hound community agrees on the schnitzel etymology. That must be a first.

                          ETA - spoken too soon '-P

                          1. Tx all for your contributions. breadfan you got in first , BobB , extremely informative and further clarified tx CervAnteZ and linguafood. As an aside, may I recommend a Rudesheim coffee to you PattiCakes. You'll never forget it.. I was particulsrly pleased to get the connection between schnitt and cut(let) which I think was brought to the fore by Paulj. Once again tx all you may have prevented a homicide.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: 1001dinners

                              I've more recently found that dictionaries trace 'cutlet' to the French 'cotelette', which derives from an earlier French word for 'little rib'.