October 27, 2021 3 min read
The Beef Schnitzel recipe below, from guest blogger Jon Bennion (@intermediatechef) uses Felton Angus Beef cube steak, which according to Jon, almost takes the dish into chicken fried steak territory.
In most places in the U.S., you are far more likely to find a nice chicken fried steak on a restaurant menu than an authentic schnitzel. While these close culinary cousins share some similarities, it’s worth noting a few tasty differences that will have you frying up your own schnitzel by the end of this column.
“Weiner Schnitzel” is an Austrian dish popularized in the U.S. by German immigrants and is usually made with veal. Chicken fried steak was, by most accounts, developed in Texas by German immigrants working in cattle country and made from beef. Both dishes use a process to either thin and/or tenderize the cuts of meat and are breaded and fried. From there, the similarities mostly end.
Schnitzel is often thinner and has a larger surface area, making for a larger crust ratio. Because of the thinness of the meat, the crust stays crisper than a chicken fried steak. While veal cutlets are the traditional form, you can “schnitzel” any of your favorite cut of meat – pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, or beef – and come up with a variety of toppings that don’t distract from the great flavor and crispy, crunchy exterior.
But it makes no difference if you trace your heritage to German ancestors or not. This particular recipe is not one you will find in cookbooks, but it’s a specially developed version of schnitzel that gives additional nods to the birthplace of the dish. These deviations happen during the breading station process, usually consisting of flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs. In my version, I add a bit of whole grain mustard to the egg mixture for flavor, and I finely crush pretzels as a substitute for traditional breadcrumbs.
This particular recipe uses Felton Angus cube steak, which almost takes it back into chicken fried steak territory. I like using their quality cube steaks because they aren’t mechanically obliterated like the ones you find in grocery stores. They allow you to do the schnitzel thinning process without tearing or creating holes.
Getting the right thinness in meat starts with cuts that are already sliced no more than ½ inch. From there using a rolling pin is the most ideal common kitchen tool to gently pound the meat even thinner while the cuts are situated in a Ziploc bag. The force from the rolling pin more evenly distributes the impact necessary to get a thin steak.
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