Wiener Schnitzel & Veal Milanese

Wiener Schnitzel and potato salad with a tasty beer in Austria
Wiener Schnitzel and the history behind it

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Wiener Schnitzel ingredients
Wiener Schnitzel method

Serving suggestions.

Lemon wedges, lingonberry jam, parslied potatoes or a green salad tossed in apple cider vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper all pair nicely.


This recipe can be turned into Schweinsschnitzel (pork cutlets), Hendlschnitzel (chicken), Putenschnitzel (turkey), pollo alla Milanese (chicken Milanese), or Orecchia di Elefanta. For the vegans and vegetarians, you can make this recipe with seitan or firm tofu cut thin and egg substitute.

On a recent trip to Vienna, I had a tasty version that was a Schnitzel Cordon Bleu with ham and Bergkäse (mountain cheese) wrapped nicely inside the pounded out pork and fried in the traditional Schnitzel technique.

What makes an excellent Schnitzel? 

I have been eating my Schnitzel-way through Austria since I have lived here and I believe my mother-in-law’s Schnitzel to be one of the best. 

  1. A perfectly golden wavy, crisp crust that is puffed up from the meat.   
  2. Juicy meat that is not dried out. 
  3. A wonderful Schnitzel is fried, but never oily. 

Tips to get your Schnitzel to “schmeckt sehr lecker.”

The breadcrumbs

Make sure your breadcrumbs are nice and dry.  Let them sit out for several days or you can put them in the oven for an hour on the lowest heat.  You can make them from various old pieces of bread either grated on a grater or in the food processor, alternatively, you can buy fine breadcrumbs as well.  The key to fluffy crust is fine breadcrumbs.

The seasoning

I like to season both the flour and the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper, you can also add paprika to the flour or parmesan to the breadcrumbs.

The technique

Keep the pan gently moving. The point is to get the fat moving on top of the schnitzel, but watch your hands.  I have read about techniques to get the puffed crust including brushing the meat with vodka or vinegar, but I think this technique works beautifully.

Wiener Schnitzel vs. Veal Milanese

The History of the Wiener Schnitzel vs. Veal Milanese

Today, Austria is considered a relatively small country in Europe, but during the Habsburg Empire of the late 19th century, the territory was vast, stretching as far east as modern-day Russia and south to the Adriatic Sea.  Due to this expansion, many of these classic Austrian dishes originated in other countries.  Gulash and Letscho were created in Hungary,  Cevapcici and Palatschinken derive from western Slavic countries, Apfelstrudel stemmed from Turkey, and Wiener Schnitzel from Italy.

The primary difference between the Viennese Schnitzel of Austria and the Cotoletta alla Milanese or Veal Milanese of Italy is the cut of meat. Both are traditionally made from calf and the Milanese comes from the loin with the bone-in, while the schnitzel is without bone and comes from the flank or rump.

Historians believe that the first Cotoletta alla Milanese was served at a banquet organized by monks of Basilico Sant Ambrogio in Milan in 1134. A version without the bone and butterflied is called Orecchia di Elefanta, translated as elephant ear because of its size. This is more closely related to Wiener Schnitzel than to the original.

During a battle in northern Italy in the 19th century, an Austrian general tasted the Cotoletta Alla Milanese and requested the dish be replicated by the chef of Emperor Franz Joseph I. This breaded dish became fashionable and the Viennese rebranded it as their own. They found it makes excellent use of the old white bread (Semmel) in Austria.

The ethos in Austrian kitchens, and now patented and protected in Austrian and German law, is “Wiener Schnitzel” can only be labeled as such if it is made with veal, otherwise, it is simply Schnitzel or specified with poultry or pork. Wiener Schnitzel is the National Dish of Austria and is celebrated on September 9th as National Wiener Schnitzel Day. If you happen to be in Vienna, this is a not to miss dish, but why wait to celebrate this delicious European delicacy when you can eat it at home any day of the year.

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