The wife and I love wiener schnitzel. Every couple of months, I’ll wreck the kitchen by preparing a table full of schnitzel, spaetzle (mini dumplings), sweet and sour cabbage, and German-style potato salad. My only problem with schnitzel is that veal is so expensive. And when you’re buying scallopini, you pay even more for less. At some point—I’m not really sure when—I stopped using veal in my recipe altogether.
Frying foods is a bit of a production. If you’re going to go through the hassle of pounding and breading meat, then you may as well make a lot of it. Since I rarely feel like dropping $60 on veal for a big dinner, I’ve started using pork instead. Actually, I use cube pork steaks instead of pork loin. It has more fat, more flavor, is already tenderized, and it’s cheap. Really cheap.
I can buy 8-10 cube steaks of pork for about $12. I used to pay that much for 2 comparable pieces of veal. Just so you know how much meat this is, consider that the cutting board is 17″ x 14″.
Every time I’ve ever served this version of wiener schnitzel (technically, it’s called wiener schnitzel vom schwein), my guests have raved. Even though it’s a low-end cut of meat, it tastes high-end because of the preparation. Here’s how to do it.
Flatten each pork cube steak. Get them thin, but not falling apart thin. The cubing disappears completely.
Lay the pork out and sprinkle kosher salt liberally over each piece. The salt draws water out of the meat, the water dissolves the salt, and the salt is pulled back into the meat. This keeps the pork moist and tender without tasting salty. As you can see, I also sprinkle on a little coarse-ground pepper.
Set up a 3-part breading station of flour, egg wash (4 eggs mixed with 1 tablespoom of dijon mustard), and breadcrumbs. I make my own breadcrumbs from stale bread/buns that I keep in the freezer, but you can use panko. It helps to have an island on wheels.
Place a baking rack in a 200° oven. Heat a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. You’ll do this for each batch that you fry. Dredge a pork cutlet in flour, shake off the excess, dunk it in the egg wash, drain off the excess, coat with breadcrumbs, and shake off the excess. Drop it in the pan and cook for about two minutes per side. This piece of pork completely fills my 12″ skillet.
Remove the cooked schnitzel to drain. I drain fried foods on old paper grocery bags. The thick paper really wicks away the oil. It’s also free, which is nice.
It helps to have a helper in the kitchen, but you can get into a rhythm by yourself. Don’t try to get clever and pre-bread all of the pork before you fry them. The flour will draw moisture out of the meat and you’ll end up with a soggy crust. You can coat one or two cutlets before frying them, but that’s ab out it. Transfer the drained schnitzel from the paper bag to the oven rack to stay warm while you cook the rest.
I usually have to wipe out the pan halfway through the cooking process. As breadcrumbs fall off in the pan and burn, they discolor the oil. That oil will taste burnt and will really darken the breading on the remaining cutlets.
When I’m finished cooking the pork, I pour out the oil, but I don’t wipe out the pan. I pour in the remaining breadcrumbs from the breading station and toast them over medium-low heat. Later, I add the boiled speatzle to the pan and fry them with some butter. It’s the perfect complement to the schnitzel.
All in all, this meal costs around $12 for the pork, and there’s maybe $1 to $3 worth of olive oil, butter, and lemons (assuming I already have the eggs and flour). Since I make my own breadcrumbs, that’s all this meal costs. I can feed 6 so people for about $15 bucks. That’s pretty cool. It’s doing the dishes that’s the pain in the ass.