Pork is traditional for German Schnitzel, the traditional dish of crispy, breaded cutlets. But there’s more to this quick and easy dish than meets the eye.
When you think of Schnitzel (pronounced SH-nit-sel), you probably think of Wiener-Schnitzel. However, Wiener-Schnitzel is only one of a number of dishes prepared in the Schnitzel way.
A “Schnitzel” bit of history
“Wiener” (pronounced VIEN-er) means “Viennese” or “from Vienna” in Austria. Wiener-Schnitzel was perfected by the Austrians, however it can be traced back to the Byzantine Empire in the 7th century. The legend goes that Kaiser Basileios I in the late 800’s AD liked his meat to be covered in sheets of gold. This practice soon become popular with the wealthy, but it was very expensive. So, an alternative “yellow gold” was created.
Bread crumbs are much cheaper than sheet of gold!
Using breadcrumbs to coat meat became a widely used preparation method, and in Milan in the 1800’s, an Austrian general was served a dish of bread crumb coated veal cutlets, sauteed in butter. He brought the idea back to the Austrian Kaiser, and it was in Vienna that Wiener-Schnitzel was perfected and became famous.
Your Schnitzel, My Schnitzel
As we mentioned, there are many variations of schnitzel. While Wiener-Schnitzel must be made with veal, a more popular German version is Schweine-Schnitzel, made with pork. You can also find leaner versions using turkey (Puten-Schnitzel) and chicken breast (Hänchen-Schnitzel).
Serving German Schnitzel
Schnitzel is traditionally garnished with lemon slices and parsley, and served with Spätzle, fries, or potato salad and a green salad. It is also common to find variations of schnitzel that include a sauce, like Jäger-Schnitzel (hunter’s schnitzel) which is topped with a mushroom sauce. Zigeuner-Schnitzel (gypsy schnitzel) is topped with a tomato-based sauce that includes peppers and onions, and Käse-Schnitzel (cheese schnitzel) is topped with melted cheese. YUM!
What beer to serve with Schnitzel?
We focus a lot on wine here at Curious Cuisiniere, but we recently made a new friend, Bryan, who’s beer knowledge is off the charts, and he’s helping us wrap our minds around the wonderful world of beer. We couldn’t think of a better time to kick off our new beer pairing features than during Oktoberfest, the ultimate celebration of beer.
A little about Bryan: Bryan Douglas is the beer buyer and manager at Sonoma Cellars in Oconomowoc, currently working toward his Cicerone Certification. Bryan enjoys sniffing, looking at, and reading about beers, as well as drinking and brewing them on occasion. He also enjoys camping, hiking, and doing anything that makes him feel like a lumber jack.
So, what did Bryan choose to pair for one of Germany’s classic dishes? The winner was Uinta Brewing’s Dubhe Imperial Black IPA from Salt Lake City, Utah. Just listen to how he describes this beer:
A nose of roasted malts, mild chocolate, and a hint of fruity – almost citrusy hop aromas – float across the head of this jet-black IPA. On the tip of the tongue you are struck with a slight chocolate and roasted malt flavor, but the best is yet to come. This Dubhe follows up those roasted malts with a big and bold hop flavor that is followed up by mild chocolate notes, finishing with a slight, but lingering bitterness. This bitterness dries out the tongue urging you to take another bite.
Doesn’t that sound beautiful? We thought so. And, it created a wonderfully complementary pairing with pork schnitzel. The fat from the frying and the pork smoothed out the edges of the beer’s hops and brought forward the creamy caramel notes. At the same time, the darkness of the beer accented the buttery, deep fried flavors of the pork’s breading.
Hearty, delicious, and definitely Oktoberfest worthy.
Pork is traditional for German Schnitzel, the traditional dish of crispy, breaded cutlets.
- 4 pork chops, cut roughly ½ inch thick
- Salt and pepper
- ½ c unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten lightly
- ¾ c plain breadcrumbs
- 4 Tbsp salted butter
- Peanut oil or vegetable oil
- Lemon slices and fresh parsley (to serve)
- Lightly salt and pepper the pork cutlets. Place them between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound them thin using a meat mallet or rolling pin, to 1/8 inch thick. Set the cutlets aside.
- Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan and add enough oil to fill the pan to 1/8 inch. Heat the oil and butter over high heat until it begins to crackle. (Tip: Toss a little breading into the hot oil, if it crisps up nicely, but doesn’t burn, then you know your oil is ready.)
- Place the flour and breadcrumbs each in their own shallow dish. Place the beaten eggs in a shallow bowl.
- Dip each pounded cutlet in flour, covering it completely. Dip the cutlet in the beaten eggs, moistening it entirely and letting any excess drain off. Then, dip the cutlet into the breadcrumbs, covering it completely, but not pressing the breadcrumbs into the cutlet. Let any excess breadcrumbs fall off.
- Immediately transfer the breaded cutlet to the hot oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes, each side until golden brown. Transfer the cutlets to a paper towel lined platter, to remove any excess oil.
- Repeat with the remaining cutlets.
- Garnish with lemon slices and parsley. Serve immediately with spätzel, fries, or German potato salad.