Wiener Schnitzel! (Haha, I said “Wiener”.)
When I lived in Melbourne in 2002, I worked at a sandwich shop run by a Greek couple who were very warm and friendly and paid everyone under the table and that worked out just fine for me. I forget their names now, except that the lady’s name was spelled like a man’s name in English, but pronounced like a girl’s name in French. Figure that one out.
My co-worker’s name was Tash, as in Natasha, but she was not Russian as the name might lead you to believe. No, ma’am. She was as Australian as they come and every time she called my name across the shop, I cringed. Her petite stature concealed a gravely, bass drum of a voice and an accent that would leave Crocodile Dundee in tears and she absolutely butchered my name, which I have always thought sounded weird enough as it is. She said it like this: Hoigh-lah. She said it like a hundred-year-old, pipe-smoking, Tasmanian fisherman might say it. Or like someone who’s had their throat ripped out by a wolf.
But then there was Mama. Mama was a big, jolly, round old Greek lady who worked in the back kitchen to whom everything was hilarious, even though she didn’t speak much English. She wasn’t actually related to the couple that owned the place, but everyone called her Mama anyway and you could tell she got a kick out of that. Her job was to make two things: schnitzel (which was their top-selling sandwich stuffer) and tzatziki (which went on just about everything). When I left the job, she presented me with the gift of bath salts and tears in her eyes.
The best part of that job was eating my free sandwich every day before I left. If that sounds pitiful to you, please, hold your pity and let me explain. They had pickled beets to go on the sandwiches, for God’s sake, and three different kinds of sliced bread to choose from. Plus, they had a toaster oven so you could toast that shit and this was WAY before I’d ever heard of Quizno’s, people. What? You want to know my favorite sandwich? Picture this: rye bread, spicy mustard, schnitzel, swiss cheese. Then you toast that bitch up and add tzatziki, pickled beets, lettuce, cucumbers, and banana peppers. Holy Shit. I should have written this entire post on just that sandwich, now that I think about it. Well, consider this a two-recipe post and please try my favorite sandwich.
After you’ve made the Schnitzel, of course.
So Wiener Schnitzel originated in Austria and it means “Viennese Schnitzel” and it’s made with veal. Veal?! Yuck! Mama and I make it the German way, with pork, and then it’s just schnitzel, I suppose. And since it’s still Oktoberfest for four more days, it’s even more fitting, isn’t it? (If you’d like a video demonstration, check out Chicken Fried Steak, which has almost the same preparation! Thanks, German settlers in Texas! It’s even more similar to milanesa. Thanks, South America!)Print
Breaded and fried pork cutlets make a quick, budget-friendly meal
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
- 1 pound boneless pork cutlets, about 1/3” thick
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups dry bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
- 2 lemons for serving
- Tenderize the cutlets gently with a mallet and sprinkle them with the salt and pepper.
- Beat the eggs together in a shallow bowl and add a couple tablespoons of water.
- Lightly dredge the cutlets in flour on both sides, then egg, then crumbs. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until a bread crumb sizzles when dropped in.
- Fry the cutlets in the oil about 2 minutes per side, until very crisp and brown. You will need to fry them in batches so have a baking sheet with a cooling rack over it nearby to set the cooked ones on while you fry the next round. The cooling rack will keep them from getting soggy by their own steam-heat.
- When they’re all fried, serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the top. Yummy!
When planning a menu around this, remember The Sound of Music: “doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles”. Buttered egg noodles would be delicious, as would boiled new potatoes. I like it with seared collard greens and cucumber salad, too.
- Leave any leftover schnitzels on the baking rack until they are totally cool, then refrigerate. Reheat in the oven or on a lightly oiled griddle and make a SUPER YUMMY SANDWICH!
- Usually I misspell the word “wiener” and spell it “weiner” and if you do that too, then just start thinking of the word “Vienna” now whenever you have to write “wiener” and it will all make sense because they both are “I before E”. I guess there’s a rhyme for that, too, but I still get mixed up when it comes to “wiener”.
I love this post, you’re such a talented writer. I luff you!!
Thanks, Jessie! I luv you too!
We love German/Hungarian food. When I was in high school, my German teacher would take us to a restaurant in Springfield Mass. called The Student Prince (Sig Romberg, please come home). Here in the DC area, there are a couple of restaurants we go to called Old Europe and Café Berlin, with very good schnitzel. Not your Greek version, but I’ll have to try that, too. Alternatives we like are Holstein schnitzel (put a fried egg on top, then top that with a curled anchovy or capers) and Schnitzel jäger art (put mushroom wine or creamed mushroom sauce on top). Oh, put poppy seeds on your buttered egg noodles.
I need to make a trip to Fredericksburg again soon to enjoy some German food. Those variations sound yummy, especially with my new-found appreciation for mushrooms!
Thanks for the reminder on poppy seeds! Not sure how traditional it is, but my mom used to also add toasted, slivered almonds to buttered egg noodles.
I still need to try making spaetzle some day. It sounds like the funnest thing EVER to make!
Wonderful post; I’m gonna go w/ German tonight. Maybe rouladen, though. With hot bacon potato salad… yeh, that’s the ticket…
Here’s a hint about German spelling w/ i’s & e’s: whichever of the two is pronounced, that is the second letter in the ie/ei spelling. Ergo: Wiener, Weimar. Much more sane than English.
This will conclude today’s German orthographical trivia. Collect them all…
That is a GREAT tip on the spelling! Never heard taht before but it explains why wiener always messed me up, because I always wanted to put the pronounced letter first, not second.
I love orthographia. Have fun with German Night tonight!
Brought back memories of some of my trips through Greece in the ’90’s, we would find the authentic Greek restaurants off the tourist path. The menu, if any, was all in Greek, so after looking bewildered for a minute, we were handed a cold beer and lead back into the kitchen. They would open all the steaming pots proudly and spoon out some of the contents so we could make our selection. Everything looked and smelled wonderful! Did not remember seeing any Wiener Schnitzel, we would get that when we took the train back to Germany. Wonderful memories, right, Hilah? Signed, Your Florida Buddy.
That sounds so amazing, Larry! I’ve never been to Greece but it is on my priority list for European travel. I think the schnitzel was more of an Australian thing. It’s super popular there. I have no idea why. Maybe there was a large German immigration? There are loads of German tourists in Aus/New Zealand.
Anyway, I want to peek into a Greek restaurant kitchen!