The schnitzel has been making a comeback – and about time too

Everyone from Jamie Oliver to René Redzepi and Thorsten Schmidt is serving a version of this Austrian classic

Hold the potato: lots of places serve chips with schnitzel, but it only needs salad and pickles. Photograph: iStock

Hold the potato: lots of places serve chips with schnitzel, but it only needs salad and pickles. Photograph: iStock

 

According to the Chinese calendar, it is the year of the dog, so we should celebrate all things canine. But as far as my food calendar goes it’s the year of the chicken schnitzel. I cannot turn my head without seeing some interpretation of this classic on a menu.

Essentially, the schnitzel is a flattened piece of meat – nearly always chicken now, but once upon a time veal, mutton, beef, turkey, reindeer or pork – that is floured, egged and breadcrumbed and then fried. Because of its full-on character it’s usually served with salad and pickles, but I see it everywhere being served with chips. Potatoes with your bread, sir? We can’t seem to get enough carbs.

Their are a multitude of recipes for making the perfect schnitzel. (And of course France has its escalope and Italy its milanese.) Everyone who’s anyone in the food world wants to make their mark on this classic, from Jamie Oliver to Matt Preston. Even René Redzepi and Thorsten Schmidt’s restaurant, Barr, in Copenhagen, serves a beautiful version of this originally Austrian dish.

After my own heart, Barr makes a pork schnitzel and serves it with horseradish cream. I love to serve mine with pickled ramsons and a good dollop of Cuinneog fermented cream.

Making your own is simple. If using chicken, flatten the breast slightly with a rolling pin, then soak overnight in buttermilk, to tenderise the meat. The following morning dry the chicken and dredge it on both sides in flour seasoned with sea salt. Then dip it in some fresh buttermilk before coating it in breadcrumbs and frying it in hot oil in a large frying pan. When you’re happy with the colour add a knob of butter and a sprig of thyme. If you haven’t any pickled ramsons (from last year), pickled onions will do as well.

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