Wiener Schnitzel – or Escalope of Veal Every Which Way
This is another dish inspired by the idiosyncratic author of Cooking in Ten Minutes, a wonderful book which does exactly what it says on the tin. There are many ways of cooking escalopes of veal but almost all are effectively fast food.
What to serve with a Wiener Schnitzel
It needs something else to go with it of course, and inspired again by Bond’s choice of food I think it goes rather well with tagliatelli verdi although in From Russia with Love they eat the pasta first in true Italian style. Having quaffed an Americano (why not a Negroni?) Bond and Tatiana eat this meal with a Chianti Broglio. If you need something green you could choose the almost instant chard.
De Pomiane suggests that you can turn this dish into ‘Veal Magyar’ by adding paprika to the deglazed gravy and serving it with dumplings (buy Aunt Bessie’s ready made and frozen or follow this link for the recipe).
Alternatively, you can serve with cream and mushrooms.
Or, it’s very nice with capers added to the gravy (not the type in brine… soak in milk first if you have to buy these).
Traditionally this dish is served with a potato salad and a slice of lemon – you may want to add some mustard to the mayonnaise sauce on the potatoes. And, in North Germany, a salad of cucumbers, sardines and capers is also served.
Or gypsy veal: add some mushrooms to the pan while frying the veal. Leave them in at the deglazing stage, add chopped ham. Serve with truffled mashed potatoes.
Or make a Wiener schnitzel in the style of Nellie Boxall. Who was Nellie Boxall? She was Virginia Woolf’s cook. When asked about her boss’s favourite food she commented
“she liked veal schnitzels and mushrooms with the trimmings and was very fond of good soups”
Virginia Woolf’s (or rather, Nellie Boxall’s) version is, I think, an improvement on the original version which uses breadcrumbs instead of flour. But it could be further improved by using buerre noisette as the fat for frying. This is because most of the water content of the butter (the worse the quality of the butter the more water it contains) has been steamed off, and the remaining purer fat gives a crisper texture to the starch and meat caramel which forms the crust, the very raison d’être, of this dish.
Where can you eat Wiener Schnitzel?
Where can you get good Austrian cooking in the UK? Wiener Schnitzel is the signature dish at Fischers, in London’s Marylebone High Street. Or try Stock Hill House in Gillingham, Dorset – the chef there even plays the zither and he makes a mean Salzburger nockerl to finish off with – a soufflé with lemon juice and honey. Of course, you’ll get the most authentic schnitzel in Vienna – at Schnitzelwirt.
Recipe for Wiener Schnitzel – or Escalope of Veal Every Which Way
- 1 veal escalope – they should be a reasonable size – 120 – 140g/4-5 oz
- ½ tbsp white flour (Italian 00 grade is good and fine, but any will do)
- salt and pepper
- knob/walnut/tbsp./10g of butter
- ¼ cup/4 tbsp pink martini – or even a bit more if needed, or you could use the juice of a lemon
- Get a frying pan ready with hot butter – DON’T LET IT BURN.
- Put the flour onto a deep plate (a soup plate is ideal), and season it.
- As the butter is just beginning to smoke, coat the escalope in the flour and lay in the pan.
- Fry it for two minutes, turn and fry another two minutes, turn again and cook three more minutes – be careful not to overcook – it should still be soft, not stiff as a board!
- Take out of the pan, cover with foil, and keep warm, leaving to rest.
- Deglaze with the pink martini and serve the escalope with the sauce in the pan.
Serve this together with some (75g/3 oz ) freshly cooked green tagliatelli through which you have stirred a handful or so of de-stemmed and shredded chard.
History and music of the Weiner schnitzel
According to legend – a legend which has absolutely no basis in fact – the dish was originally brought to Vienna from Italy by an adjutant of Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky who mentioned it in passing while reporting on the political situation in Lombardy. A linguist named Hans Dieter Pohl has discredited this colourful explanation conjecturing that the origins of the dish are truly Austrian. Anyway, I rather like the idea of producing a Wiener Schnitzel whilst listening to the delightful Radetzky March (see video below). It’s easy to be a bit snobby about Andre Rieu, but all those people enjoying that music really can’t be bad! The story of the decline of the Austro-Hungarian empire is brilliantly told in Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March – as William Boyd writes in his introduction to the Folio edition, “It’s a world of isolated country estates and military barracks; of lonely, lovelorn cavalry officers and melancholy bureaucrats”.
Andre Rieu’s rendering of the Radetzky March
Gorgeous singer, Barbara’s, version of Vienne