Wiener Schmiener

In food on 03/22/2009 at 9:14 pm

Growing up, I knew wiener schnitzel as a hot dog chain on Beach Blvd. The chili variety is excellent. These days, there’s even a fried fish dog. What will they think of next? Now imagine my surprise when suddenly one day the other half tells me wiener schnitzel is really a chicken-fried pork cutlet.

Traditionally, wiener schnitzel is a boneless veal steak, pounded really thin and fried within an inch of its life. Austrians call it Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein for the piglet version. The dish is derived from Milan in the 16th century, where milanese-ing something is also frying a cutlet, but bone left in. It was introduced to Germans as a spoil of the wars. In America, the midwest Germans hold their own with the pork tenderloin, served in diners and Culver’s up and down the Mississippi. Other versions for pretty much the same thing are the French payard/paillard, and the Japanese tonkatsu.

While grocery shopping this afternoon, I suddenly decided I wanted to master this dish, and the pork chops were on sale. This is a heavy dish, so I needed something light to accompany it. German potato salad is nice, all tang and bacon-y, but with the other half’s penchant for poo-poo-ing the spud, that was out of the question. A salad would be refreshing too, but all we had was watercress. You know that song “Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels, doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles,” well the noodles is probably spatzle, an egg-y pasta, so I made some mac n’ cheese to pack for this week’s lunches. We’ll save the spatzle recipe for another time.

Speaking of Germany, I’m reminded of my short-lived, yet fruitful days singing in the Beethoven Maennerchor. The beer garten out back behind the clubhouse during Oktoberfest, open to the public, and the members dressed in lederhosen and dirndl bring back fond memories. Just don’t tell anyone that the cakes they sold were bought from the local grocery store.

Pork loin chops
cornstarch (ups the QQ factor of the meat, secret to all Chinese fast food)
panko (Japanese bread crumbs made from the inside, not the crust; yields as crispier, lighter coating)
salt and pepper
chili powder
Worcestshire sauce

Clean pork loin chops (cut out bones) and pound thin 1/2″ thick with a meat mallet or bottom of heavy skillet between two layers of saran wrap.

Prep three plates for breading: one with cornstarch, one with beaten egg mixed with a dash of water to loosen, one with panko. Season egg with Worcestershire. Season panko with salt and pepper, paprika and chili powder. You can add whatever spices you’d like as well. (The traditional dish has minimal flavoring; we like big bold heat)

Heat oil and butter in skillet. Transfer pork into the breading, first coat with cornstarch, then egg mix, finally panko. Place in skillet on one side for 3 minutes on high heat. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes on medium. This yields juicy, slightly pink pork. Prost!

das schnitzel

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