There are a ton of purist rules for Wiener Schnitzel. And while there are sure to be moments where you can absolutely break rules (words my kids live by?), this dish is not one of them. The best veal you can lay your hands on, pounded thinly, coated in coarse flour, whisked egg and pure breadcrumbs, fried in clarified butter. That could be the end of that, but I have an amazing secret for the ultimate Viennese Schnitzel, the most important sign of a good specimen: a big, fluffy gap between the meat and the breading. It’s actually the kind of cooking secret you’d love to keep to yourself, because people will be raving about your Wiener Schnitzel into all eternity and you can bask in the glory, believe me. But I will share. Because we’re all in this gathering & being together, right?
The wonderful little secret to the best Wiener Schnitzel is: water. You spray or baste the veal with water before breading it, so when the water evaporates while you're cooking the meat, it leaves that lovely airy gap between the breading and the meat. So simple and yet such a nifty little trick. Now go forth and have an unforgettable meal: get to schnitzeling!
4 veal cutlets, about 5-6 oz each (180 g). Ideally, have your butcher cut them about 1/4 inch (1 cm) thick.
1 cup (125 g) coarse ground flour
2 cups (250 g) plain breadcrumbs
8 oz (1 cup, 240 ml) clarified butter
Two lemons, cut into wedges
One bunch of flat leaf parsley, stems removed
Prepare your dredging stations: Place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in separate large bowls. Whisk the eggs thoroughly with a fork.
Fill a glass with cold water and ready a basting brush. Alternatively, you can use a clean spray bottle filled with cold water.
In a large, heavy pan, start heating the clarified butter on medium high heat. The pan needs to be big and deep enough for one Schnitzel at a time to be able to float freely in the fat. Don't put more than one in the pan at a time, crowding will bring down the temperature of the hot butter and your Schnitzel won't be as crispy as it should be.
Place the meat (either all on one very big piece or you can pound them one at a time) on a long piece of cling film and double the cling film over, so the meat is covered.
Firmly knock out the Schnitzel with a heavy pan. You can also use an unopened wine bottle, just don’t use one of those meat mallets; they can shred the meat and you’re left with veal tatters. The Schnitzel should be 3-4 mm thick.
Brush water on both sides of each piece of meat.
Season both sides with a generous sprinkling of salt. This is the only seasoning, so don’t be stingy!
Pierce the first piece of meat on the edge of one of the long ends with a fork and dredge in flour on both sides.
Then pull the floured schnitzel through the whisked eggs. Make sure both sides are fully coated in egg. Hold it up over the bowl and wait a few seconds for the excess egg to drip off.
Gently pull the meat through the breadcrumbs on both sides. Make sure it’s well coated, but don’t press the breadcrumbs in. If you see patches without breadcrumbs, sprinkle some on. Repeat for the other pieces of meat.
Turn the heat of the stove up to high. Prepare a plate with some paper towels.
Throw a pinch of breadcrumbs into the fat. If it hisses and bubbles up, it’s hot enough. Use your fingers to carefully lower your first Schnitzel into the pan. Hold the handle of the pan and gently swish the Schnitzel back and forth in the butter. With your other hand, use a spoon with long handle to spoon the hot butter over the meat. After 2-3 minutes, use a spatula or silicone tongs to gently turn over the Schnitzel. Be careful to not pierce the breading!
Once it’s turned over, keep swishing and spooning. If the clarified butter gets too hot, turn it down slightly. When the Schnitzel is golden brown, remove from the pan and place on the paper towels to absorb the excess fat.
Repeat with the other Schnitzel.
Turn down the heat a notch. Drop the parsley in the fat. Careful, it will sputter a bit! Let the parsley fry for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a fresh wad of paper towels.
Serve the Schnitzel with the crispy parsley, wedges of lemon and a green salad, parsley potatoes or a potato salad.