For Full-Flavored Schnitzel, Try Pork

The New York Times
By Melissa Clark
October 10, 2014

Before traveling to Austria several years ago, I thought schnitzel was, by definition, made with veal. That was how I always had it, and that was fine with me: a well-made veal schnitzel is a wonderful thing.

But then in Vienna, I tasted pork schnitzel, which is just as traditional as veal over there. Where veal schnitzel is delicate and lean, pork schnitzel full-flavored and fatty. And as much as I like delicate and lean, I like full-flavored and fatty even more.

Another point in pork’s favor: It is more economical and forgiving than veal, and thus better suited to weeknight cooking.

I start with a boneless loin cutlet, preferably one with a nice ring of white fat around the edges. Then I pound it as thin as I can get it, usually about 1/8 inch. I use a meat mallet to do the job. If you have one, use the flat side, not the textured side, which is for tenderizing tough cuts. Pork cutlets are tender enough to begin with without the added smashing. A rolling pin also works, as does a heavy skillet.

I like to serve something crisp and tart with my schnitzel. A salad with a bright dressing works, as do pickles straight out of the jar.

Homemade quick pickles are the best of both worlds: fresh and like a salad, yet tangy enough to counter the irresistibly rich pairing of fried and pork. And you can let the pickles cure while the schnitzel cooks. A combination of vinegar, salt and sugar is the traditional pickling mix, but for this recipe I substituted lime juice and a bit of the fragrant rind for the acid. If you don’t want to make pickles, just slice up a cucumber or two, maybe a fennel bulb, toss with salt and serve it with your schnitzel, with lime wedges on the side.

I’ve never had the problem of having leftover schnitzel to account for. But if I did, I’d make it into a sandwich for lunch the next day, topped with some of the quick pickles and a big smear of mayonnaise. This, in and of itself, may be reason enough to fry up an extra cutlet or two while you’re at it.

And of course, if you are feeling delicate and lean, feel free to make this with veal.

And to Drink ...

The short answer: Think Austrian. Either grüner veltliner or good dry Austrian riesling will go beautifully with schnitzel. If you prefer red, you could try a fresh, lithe zweigelt. Beyond Austria, many dry whites with substance and body will do: chardonnay, as long as it’s not oaky; Savennières, herbal sauvignon blancs, Soave, ribolla gialla from northeast Italy, a godello from Spain. And don’t forget sparkling wines, particularly Champagne, great with many fried foods. ERIC ASIMOV