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Wiener schnitzel

Australian Gourmet Traveller classic dish recipe for wiener schnitzel.

By Alice Storey
  • Serves 6
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 45 mins cooking
Wiener schnitzel
Wiener schnitzel

Dishes that fall into the “classic” category ask to be cooked time and again, their appeal traversing generations and often cultures. Wiener schnitzel is one such dish.

Not all schnitzels are equal. Their preparation and cooking methods are similar – a piece of meat breaded then baked or fried – but it’s the accompaniments that distinguish one schnitzel from another.

Dating back to when the Roman legions marched through the Alps around 100BC, there are many incarnations (Florentiner Kalbsschnitzel, served with tomatoes and risotto; Holsteiner schnitzel, topped with a fried egg; and paprikaschnitezel, with paprika sauce, to name but three), but it’s Wiener schnitzel that has entered the realms of the classic.

Austria’s most famous dish outside Austria is a simple affair. A thin escalope of veal is dredged in flour, egg and breadcrumbs before being shallow-fried. Many Austrians insist it must be cooked in lard. Regardless, it’s traditionally accompanied by a slice of lemon, lingonberry jam, and potato salad or butter-tossed potatoes with parsley.

It’s similar to Italy’s famous costoletta alla Milanese, which is crumbed and most often cooked on the bone. Alan Davidson’s explains the difference neatly: “the Milanese cut the meat from the rib and fry it in butter, whereas the Austrians take the escalope from the leg, and fry it in lard”.

With Austria’s influx of Italian and German immigrants in the late 19th century came an increased appetite for veal, and costoletta may have crossed the Alps with those Italian migrants, morphing into Wiener schnitzel later.

For our version of the Austrian classic, the potatoes remain (albeit the crisp, fried variety) and it’s lightened up with fennel and radish slaw. A good squeeze of lemon is a must. After years languishing in the bain-marie wilderness, the time has come for this old favourite to regain its rightful place on our dinner tables.

Even though this crumbed veal dish is thought to have marched over the Alps from Italy, it is resolutely Austrian.

Ingredients

  • 6 veal schnitzels (about 160 gm each)
  • 75 gm plain flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200 gm fresh fine breadcrumbs
  • 60 gm butter or lard, coarsely chopped
  • To serve: lemon wedges
Fried potatoes
  • 1 kg small kipfler potatoes
  • 70 gm speck, cut into lardons
Fennel and radish slaw
  • 6 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced, fronds reserved
  • 300 gm white cabbage, finely shredded
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) white wine vinegar
  • 55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Method

Main
  • 1
    For fried potatoes, cook potatoes in boiling salted water until just tender (15-20 minutes). Drain, cool, peel, cut into 5mm-thick slices and set aside. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add speck and cook until starting to colour (3-5 minutes). Add potatoes and turn occasionally until golden (5-7 minutes). Season to taste, remove from heat and keep warm.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, for fennel and radish slaw, place radish in a small non-reactive bowl. Combine fennel slices and cabbage in a separate non-reactive bowl. Combine vinegar, sugar and 60ml water in a saucepan, bring to the boil over high heat, then pour one-quarter of the liquid over radish and remaining liquid over fennel mixture. Set aside to cool. Dry-roast caraway seeds until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Drain fennel mixture and radish (discard liquid), combine in a bowl, add caraway seeds, olive oil, and fennel fronds, season to taste, toss and set aside.
  • 3
    Place flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls. Working with one piece of veal at a time, dip in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off excess between layers. Repeat with remaining veal slices. Set aside.
  • 4
    Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add half the butter, when foaming add half the schnitzel and cook, turning once, until golden and cooked through (3-5 minutes). Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Wipe pan clean with absorbent paper, then repeat with remaining butter and schnitzel. Serve immediately with slaw, potatoes and lemon wedges.
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  • Author: Alice Storey