So one of my favourite foods on this planet is schnitzel. I don’t know why. I just love it. It is so simple, and yet, so easy to mess up! It can be over fried and dried out, or burnt, or greasy… or, worse, undercooked! Salmonella poisoning anyone? What I also find interesting is that depending on where you’re from, you can vary it to match your local dining style. Did you know that pretty much every culture has some version of schnitzel? I thought this week I would show some of the ways a simple breaded chicken breast can be adapted and savoured all over the world!
Today, we’re going to start off with a traditional German-style chicken schnitzel. Most people have heard of wienerschnitzel. “Wiener” means Viennese (from Vienna) in German, not pork or veal as some people think (those words would be Schweinefleisch and Kalbfleisch). But while the Austrians may have perfected the wienerschnitzel, the origin of the schnitzel actually goes back to the 7th century Byzantine Empire.
The story goes that the Kaiser Basileios I (867-886AD) preferred his meat covered with sheets of gold. And of course, what the Kaiser does, the wealthy soon copied, but not everyone could afford to dine on gold. The solution? An alternative “yellow gold” coating of bread crumbs was used instead. And the rest they say, is delicious history!
6 (4-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to ¼” thickness
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
vegetable oil (for frying)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten to blend
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 ¾ cups breadcrumbs
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley*
lemon wedges (for serving)
* Click here to learn how to clean parsley.
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Fit a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not non-stick) with a deep-fry thermometer and pour in the oil to measure ½” deep and heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 315°F (you want a moderate heat here because chicken breasts are so thin, they will cook quite quickly).
Meanwhile, place the flour in a shallow bowl. Whisk the eggs and mustard together in another shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a third shallow bowl. Working with 1 chicken breast at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess, dip into egg mixture, turning to coat evenly, then carefully coat with breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Working in 3 batches, fry the chicken until it is golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and season with salt. Top the chicken with parsley and serve with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over.