Schnitzel (řízek in Czech) is a dish that exists in almost all Central European countries, including the Czech Republic. Germans, our neighbors to the west, are proud of their German-style Schnitzel. Austrians, our neighbors to the south, are fond of their authentic Wiener Schnitzel.
We, Czechs, know and love both of these variations. In this article, you’ll find the recipe named after the capital city of Austria: Wiener Schnitzel.
What Is Wiener Schnitzel?
Wiener Schnitzel is a slice of veal leg, lightly pounded, ¼ inch thick at most. It is dredged in flour, then dipped in beaten eggs, and finally coated in breadcrumbs.
Breaded Wiener Schnitzel is normally fried in a thick layer of fat. However, clarified butter is recommended for the best taste.
Wiener Schnitzel got its name after Vienna, the capital city of Austria.
Austria is a small country in Europe, a southern neighbor of the Czech Republic. Czechs were a part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire for four centuries until 1918, so the Czech cuisine is partly based on the Austrian one.
Although Wiener Schnitzel belongs among Austrian national meals, it’s well known in the Czech Republic too. In Czech, we call it vídeňský řízek (a literal translation).
Sometimes, the origin of the Wiener Schnitzel is attributed to Germany, but that’s not correct. Germans have their own German style Schnitzel, which is made out of pork.
The pronunciation of the word Wiener Schnitzel can be tricky. In Austria, where the Wiener Schnitzer originates, they speak German. You have to pronounce it like this: /ˈviːnər ˈʃnɪtsəl
The English incorrect distortion of the word, Weinersnitchel (apparently a transliteration), is also common.
In the Czech Republic, Wiener Schnitzel is translated as vídeňský řízek, and pronounced viːdɛɲski r̝iːzɛk.
- Veal; I prefer cutlets
- All-purpose flour
- Eggs; cracked in a bowl, lightly beaten with a fork
- Vegetable oil; for frying – some famous cooks recommend clarified butter or pork lard to fry Wiener Schnitzel
- Pound the veal cutlet to a slice about ¼ inch thick.
- Salt the slices from both sides.
- Coat the meat in flour, then in beaten eggs, and lastly in breadcrumbs.
- Fry it in a pan in a thick layer of fat (clarified butter is ideal) on both sides.
- Put the finished Wiener Schnitzel on paper towels in order to drain off the excess fat.
- Eggs should be only lightly beaten with a fork, and never blended or mixed.
- Don’t press the meat when coating it in breadcrumbs, just dust it a little.
- Fry the Schnitzel in a pan.
A typical side dish are potatoes prepared in various ways. In Vienna, they usually serve it with a light potato salad without mayonnaise - the Viennese salad.
Wiener Schnitzel tastes great with boiled potatoes or mashed potato puree. It also goes well with crushed potatoes (Czech šťouchané brambory).
If you wanted to use pork for the Wiener Schnitzel, it wouldn’t be a Wiener Schnitzel, but a German Schnitzel. It is prepared very similarly; the main difference is the meat used: Wiener Schnitzel can be made only from veal.
After pounding, veal slices should be ¼ inch thick at most. If you have a thicker slice of meat, you can cut it carefully (but don’t finish it!) and then open it up as a book. Professional cooks commonly prepare the Schnitzel this way, and then it’s so large that it will cover a large chunk of your plate.
Vídeňský řízek – Czech Wiener Schnitzel (Weinersnitchel)
- 2 veal cutlets (each about 6 oz)
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup (45 g) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (90 g) breadcrumbs
- vegetable oil (for frying, or clarified butter / pork lard )
- Cover the slice of veal with a plastic wrap and pound it until it’s thin. Thanks to the plastic wrap, you won’t damage the surface of the meat, and cleaning up the kitchen worktop later will be a lot easier.
- Prepare the ingredients for coating. When coating it in flour and breadcrumbs, a sheet of aluminum foil has proved the best for me. Whip the eggs with a fork in a large shallow bowl (the pounded slices of meat get larger).
- Coat the meat in the flour first, then put it in the whipped eggs and lastly, coat it lightly in the breadcrumbs. Don´t press the breadcrumbs into the meat slices.
- Heat a large amount of fat in a pan.
- Fry the Wiener Schnitzel in a thick layer of fat on both sides (it shouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pan) until it turns golden brown.
- After taking it out of the pan, place the Wiener Schnitzel on a paper towel to drain off the excess fat.
DISCLAIMER: Because I come from Central Europe, my recipes are based on metric units such as grams or milliliters. Check out how I convert metric units to the U.S. system:Conversion chart