Like many traditional German recipes, schnitzel is very popular and has been around for a very long time. What is schnitzel, you ask? Generally speaking, schnitzel is any type of meat that has been pounded, breaded, and fried. Schnitzel comes from the word “schnitz” which means a slice or a cut. While schnitzel can be made with various types of meat, it is most common for Germans to use either veal or pork as their protein. If you get talking with a German about which one to use, you will find out it is a very controversial topic, and the answer varies depending on the region.
Although schnitzel is a traditional German dish, it did not actually originate in Germany. The idea of pounding meat to tenderize it has been around for centuries. The method of dredging, coating, and frying a piece of pounded meat has been noted as early as one century BC by Apicus in Rome. In the middle ages, schnitzel was common in Italy and Austria; it was actually the Romans that brought their style of cooking up into modern Germany. Today, variations of schnitzel can be found all over the world.
The most popular type of schnitzel is the Wiener schnitzel. Interestingly, the Wiener schnitzel isn’t even German in its origins – it’s Austrian. The term “Wiener Schnitzel” is protected by law, and technically, any schnitzel called by that name has to be made from veal. Leave off the “Wiener”, however, and one can make “schnitzel” out of any meat one desires.
This particular recipe uses pork chops, as they are easily found at the grocery store and are (in my opinion) equally as delicious as veal. Feel free to substitute veal chops if you can get your hands on them. Schnitzel is commonly served alongside German potato salad, French fries, or German red cabbage salad.
4 boneless pork chops
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Lemon wedges for serving
Place each pork chop between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a meat tenderizer to pound the pork until it is 1/4 inch thick.
In a dish, mix the flour, salt, and pepper. In another dish, add lightly beaten eggs. In a third dish, add the breadcrumbs and thyme. Add a pinch more salt to the breadcrumbs if desired.
Lightly dredge each pork chop in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. It is important to lightly coat the pork chop in the breadcrumbs, gently shaking off any excess. Do not press breadcrumbs into the pork chop. This ensures a light and crispy coating.
Heat the oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork chops until they are golden brown and crispy (approximately 3-4 minutes per side). Place the pork chops on paper towel to get rid of any excess oil and butter.
Garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately.