This weekend, the wife and I decided to make some Austrian-style food. I was craving some veal and she wanted to make her grandmother’s spaetzle (fried dumplings). To make spaetzle, you mix 2 cups all-purpose flour with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg. In a separate bowl, beat two eggs with 3/4 cup milk. Slowly drizzle the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until it forms a smooth batter:
Next, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. This is where it gets a little complicated – and messy.
Since you’re working over a pot of boiling water, I recommend using two people. One person should hold a sieve or colander (whichever has the larger holes) over the pot. The second person should pour the batter into the colander a scoop at a time and work the batter through the holes with the bottom of a ladle:
The spaetzle only takes about three minutes to cook. As a general rule, they’ll float when they’re done. You might want to work the batter through the colander in two stages, removing the cooked dumplings with a slotted spoon after each interval.
Once they’re finished cooking, you can season them with salt and pepper, toss them with some melted butter, and serve. You really need to get some kind of liquid on them or else they’ll stick together. My wife’s grandmother throws them into a pan with a lot of butter and toasts them with breadcrumbs to add a little more taste and texture. Other people make a gravy with the drippings from the schnitzel pan and pour it over the dumplings. Whatever works for you.
While my wife was busy with the spaetzle, I was working on the wiener schnitzel. I bought about a pound of veal scallopini from the grocery store. Even though they do a pretty good job of flattening it, I still pound them a little at home to ensure even cooking. I just put the veal in a ziplock freezer bag and hammer it, one piece at a time, and then season the meat with some salt and pepper:
Next, I set up my breading station on my new kitchen island. It’s basically the same process as with eggplant parmesan – dredge in flour, dip in eggwash, and then coat with breadcrumbs. The difference with this dish is that I add 2 tablespoons of cream and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard to three well-beaten eggs to make the eggwash. I also use panko breadcrumbs instead of the mealy bread dust that comes in the round package:
I know what you’re thinking; Japanese breadcrumbs in an Austrian dish? Trust me, it works:
Next, you fry the veal over medium/medium-high heat in a mixture of 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and butter. You may need to add more butter and oil to the pan in between batches:
Finally, let the schnitzel dry on a wire rack or on some paper towels. I usually squeeze the juice from a half a lemon over all of the veal just before serving:
The veal came out very good, especially the panko crust. Whenever the schnitzel finishes cooking before the spaetzle, I use the last batch of dumplings to clean the frypan. The fond from the veal adds a great flavor and that last batch. When mixed with the rest if the spatzle, it seems to bring everything together nicely.
UPDATE: On Sunday, we tailgated and watched the riders compete in the USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship. We took a cooler with some drinks and used the leftover wiener schnitzel to make some veal parmesan hoagies:
They really hit the spot. In a remarkable twist of fate, we happened to sit next to the woman who lived in our house for over 20 years. She asked if we lived close, and we told her the street name. She excitedly inquired about the exact address, and then she hugged me after I told her. It turns out that she’s the one who built the garage, the back deck, and extended the kitchen onto the old back stoop. And it was her father who built the dining room built-ins that I tore down and replaced. They only live a few blocks away, so I told them to stop by whenever they’re walking or driving by. I hope they come. I have lots of questions I’d like to ask.