I spent a long, cold portion of a winter in Vienna once.


What I was doing there is a long story all it’s own, but like many such stories, it had to do with a girl. That didn’t work out as planned, and I spent much of my time there on my own, exploring the city — stumbling on former residences of Beethoven around every corner, searching out the Grove of the Immortals — Brahams, Schubert, Strauss, Beethoven — in the Central Cemetery, visiting the homes of Mozart and Dr. Freud, staring at the sparkling canvases of Klimt at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, taking in Richard Strauss’ “Rosenkavalier” at the famed State Opera House and a performance of the Vienna Boys Choir at the Imperial Chapel.

As I do most places I go, I had food adventures in Vienna as well. I found a favorite wurst stand near the Stephansplatz (St. Stephan’s Square to you and I) run by a Chinese guy who laughed hysterically whenever I ordered the spicy currywurst and said in broken Chinese-and-German-accented English, “Some like it hot!!!” I found the Turkish neighborhood and bought hot, freshly baked flatbreads. And then there was my daily afternoon stop at a liquor store on my way home, where each day I would pick up a large bottle of beer to take back to enjoy at the flat overlooking the Danube. Each was better than the next; that is, until I one day purchased a particular bottle that was especially thin, one-dimensional and bitter. It was only upon closer inspection of the label that I discovered the word, “Alkoholfrei.”

I ate out many times while I was there — in grand old coffee houses like the famous Café Pruckel, and hipster joints with my former-girlfriend-but-by-this-point-just-friend Karin. But the one thing I never at in Vienna was wienerschnitzel.

My sister, Andrea, rescued me midway through my stay and we set off for Italy. She took great delight in my explaining to her that Vienna in German was called “Wien” (pronounced, “Veen”), and the people who lived there were therefor “wieners.” “Look at all the wieners!” she kept saying as we traversed the city by bus. “Wienerschnitzel” is the “schnitzel” (cutlet, typically made with veal) of the Viennese. It’s as simple as that! And the dish, for one steeped in such lore, is deceptively simple. Much like the city’s wursts, there are a dazzling array of variations — pork schnitzel, paprika schnitzel, rahm schnitzel with mushrooms… even versions from further afield like the Berliner schnitzel a la Holstein with anchovies and fried egg. I prefer the pork version — it’s less expensive and tastier than veal, and you aren’t eating a baby animal.

In the years since my adventure in Vienna, I’ve become quite adept at making schnitzel. I’ve even mastered the traditional accompaniment: the light, drizzly egg pasta known as spaetzle. One day I would like to return to that lovely city and try the dish where it originated. For now, I take my meat mallet in hand and pound, pound, pound…

*   *   *

serves 4 – 6

2 lbs. pork or veal cutlets, 1/2-inch thick
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1 cup lard or vegetable oil (or half and half of each)
1 large lemon
Flaky sea salt & freshly ground pepper

About 1 hour before commencing cooking, sprinkle the cutlets liberally with salt.

Place cutlets, one at a time, between two sheets of wax paper. Using a meat tenderizer or the back of a heavy chef’s knife, pound the cutlets as thin as you can — preferably to 1/4 an inch. Continue until all cutlets have been pounded out.

Beat the eggs in a large, low bowl. On two plates, place the flour and the bread crumbs. Heat about 1/3 cup of lard (or oil) in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the cutlets in flour, then dip in the egg, then in the bread crumbs to coat. Place cutlets, 2 or 3 at a time (whatever your skillet will fit), and cook about 2 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden. Remove to a plate and keep warm in a 200 degree oven. Continue until all cutlets have been cooked.

To serve, place a couple cutlets on each of 4 (or 6) plates. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and serve with a lemon wedge. Wienerschitzel is typically served with spaetzle (a loose egg-based pasta noodle) and/or sauerkraut.

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vivica
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 01:07:59

    Cleo is ready to try it now that she saw you make it !


  2. Andy
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 01:10:35

    I love schnitzel! I serve it with spaetzle in a mustard cream sauce and Rotkohl. Google Rotkohl, dude, you’ll love it with that dish!


    • scolgin
      Feb 08, 2013 @ 02:11:38

      That’s a weird name. I wonder what it is? I like to serve spaetzle with butter and roasted chanterelles. I have a cool spaetzle drizzler thing from Austria that my Austrian friend gave me.


  3. Andy
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 01:11:53

    Or, I can give you my recipe for it which I probably got from googling but it is wonderful!!


  4. Michelle
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 02:09:27

    Beware the Alkoholfrei! And schnitzel? What’s not to like?


  5. Andy
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 17:10:12

    German Rotkohl

    ½ head red cabbage shredded

    1 granny smith apple diced

    ½ onion sliced

    4 ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar

    ¼ cup dry red wine (or more)

    ½ tsp. salt

    1 Tbls. sugar

    2 Tbls. Butter

    ½ cup water

    1 bay leaf

    Put the ingredients in a dutch oven and simmer covered for 1 hour. (Keep an eye on it and add more liquid if necessary.) Simmer uncovered 45 minutes more until the liquid is gone. This freezes great so make a huge batch!


    • scolgin
      Feb 08, 2013 @ 17:14:23

      Sounds great! I googled it and also saw something similar called “Blaukraut”. They do have a way with language, those Germans, don’t they…


      • Vivica
        Feb 12, 2013 @ 04:01:38

        Here’s a german tongue twister for you:
        Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid (red cabbage remains red cabbage and wedding dress remains wedding dress).
        The above recipe is good, but in my opinion better if used with beer instead of the red wine for cooking. And of course it is much better the next day!

      • scolgin
        Feb 14, 2013 @ 21:48:10

        Bl-bl-bl… huh?? Everything’s better with beer, right? 😉

  6. Ant Patty
    Feb 09, 2013 @ 01:59:49

    where’s the spaetzle recipe? You teased me with the promise of spaetzle….


    • scolgin
      Feb 09, 2013 @ 14:30:54

      Spaetzle is super easy to make. You just mix egg and flour into a gooey batter — probably two parts egg to two parts flour, I would guess. And then you drizzle it into boiling water — I used to use a funnel until my friend gave me a spaetzle maker. Then when it floats, you scoop it out with a slotted spoon and toss with butter. But maybe I’ll add a recipe proper to the post. Thanks!


  7. Jessamine in PDX
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 01:48:32

    Yum, I love a good wienerschnitzel! My husband actually just brought me some pork schnitzels home from the restaurant and I devoured them. Wish I had some spaetzle to go with, but alas, I was just too lazy. Also love the story! I laughed when I got to the alkoholfrei part — tragic yet hilarious. Sounds like you had a good adventure!


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