Even people who think they don’t like German and Austrian food usually like schnitzel. It’s pork and it’s fried – what’s not to like?
Actually, the Germans and the Austrians may not have invented schnitzel, which is traditionally a thin, breaded cutlet of meat that’s fried till golden. Most food historians think they borrowed it from a northern Italian dish called milanesa. But, well, pretty much every other culture has a version of this dish, too. (Chicken-fried steak? It’s basically a schnitzel, or milanesa, made with beef, and then covered with gravy.)
Although in Europe schnitzel is often made with veal, I prefer pork, because it’s easy to get and inexpensive. This is a good weeknight meal because it cooks so fast; the thinner you pound the meat, the faster it cooks. Serve it with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable or salad, or with German potato salad and cooked cabbage if you want to go the traditional European route.
2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 cups+ 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pork tenderloin (1 1/4 pounds). trimmed of fat and silver skin and cut on angle into 4 equal pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 lemon, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons parsley, fresh chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed (optional)
Place bread crumbs to shallow dish. Spread flour in second shallow dish. Beat eggs with 1 tablespoon oil in third shallow dish.
Place one piece of pork cut-side down inside a large plastic freezer bag and pound to even thickness, until cutlet is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with remaining pieces of pork. Season cutlets with salt and pepper.
Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge cutlets thoroughly in flour, shaking off excess, then coat with egg mixture, allowing excess to drip back into dish to ensure very thin coating, and coat evenly with bread crumbs, pressing on crumbs to adhere. Place breaded cutlets in single layer on wire rack set over baking sheet; let coating dry 5 minutes.
Heat remaining 2 cups oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it registers 375 degrees on instant-read thermometer. Lay 2 cutlets, without overlapping, in pan and cook, shaking pan continuously and gently, until cutlets are wrinkled and light golden brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer cutlets to paper towel-lined plate and flip cutlets several times to blot excess oil. Repeat with remaining cutlets. Serve immediately with garnishes.