All About Schnitzels
The Variety of Schnitzel Offerings in Germany are Almost Endless!
Traditional schnitzels, by definition, are made with veal. However, many German restaurants will offer a "Schnitzel" using different meats while still following the preparation techniques of the original Wiener Schnitzel (coated in flour, then dipped in egg, and finally coated in bread crumbs, and then fried to a golden brown). In certain restaurants, you may see this preparation called "Wiener Art," meaning it was prepared in the same manner as a Wiener Schnitzel, but the meat is not veal. Today, different types of meat that are found in schnitzels include veal, chicken, pork and turkey.
Quite popular in German cuisine, the original Wienerschnitzel is wholly Austrian. Originating in Vienna, Austria as Vienna in German is Wien, and anything that is Viennese is Wiener, hence, the Wienerschnitzel. European immigrants brought their own recipes for schnitzel to the United States, but during World War One, the word schnitzel was dropped for the patriotic Salisbury Steak. Of course, the traditional side of sauerkraut also had a name change and became "liberty cabbage!" Down in the South, we use a chopped beef steak and smother it in cream gravy and call it chicken fried steak.
There are a plethora of schnitzels out there, and everyone has their favorite. Almost popping up overnight, many restaurants have their own recipes and their own flair that they put on a schnitzel. Just check out www.schnitzel-culture.de/ to see the great diversity in Schnitzel! (They have at least 40 different types)! I’ve put together a quick list of my own personal favorites, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.
The following variations are typically offered by German restaurants.
Wienerschnitzel: The original is veal only. Pounded very thin, coated with bread crumbs and sauteed to crispy perfection, but never deep fried. (Well, maybe by cheaper fast food restaurants. A wedge of lemon is a must and is placed directly on top of the schnitzel. These are often pounded so thin, they occupy the entire plate, and the sides are on additional plates.
For all other schnitzels, the meat is usually only half the original Wienerschnitzel size.
Cordon-Bleu: This dish came from Switzerland. It is a schnitzel stuffed with ham and cheese.
Jägerschnitzel: This is a veal or pork schnitzel topped with a wine-mushroom or a cream-mushroom sauce. Often, a simply fried chop is smothered with the sauce. However, sometimes the original breaded schnitzel (made according to the Wiener Schnitzel method - "Wiener Art") is topped with the sauce.
Zigeunerschnitzel: This is a schnitzel covered in a tomato based sauce with red peppers. Zigeuner means gypsy in German, so think Hungarian with plenty of bell peppers. The word has gotten out of use, and Paprikaschnitzel is now often used. Paprika are bell peppers in German. Many purists, however, insist they are different. I’ve simply noticed that the Paprikaschnitzel has more peppers in the sauce. Unfortunately, the schnitzel is pretty much devoured before I get around to counting out individual pepper strips and making any comparisons.
Käseschnitzel: Käse is cheese in German, so imagine a schnitzel with melted cheese all over it!
Rahmschnitzel: This chop is covered in a cream sauce, with lots of fresh cracked pepper. Rahm in German is cream. Full of creamy goodness and very popular.
Holsteinschnitzel: A schnitzel topped with sauteed onions, a slice of ham and a fried egg. The Holstein area is in north Germany, and I have seen a Holsteinschnitzel with small filets of fish on it as well.
Variations abound, but this is what I have usually encountered throughout Germany. I am sure many have had other experiences, and other flavors with different ingredients combined with different cooking methods. Almost as important are the side dishes that accompany each Schnitzel. I hope to try them all!
Let me know what type of schnitzels you’ve tried.