Veal is the classic meat for snitzel but it’s not always available where I am, so I often use pork which makes for a tender snitzel as long as long it is not overcooked. You can use chicken instead of veal or pork, but you need to ensure it cooks all the way through.
Whichever meat you choose, it should be sliced thinly and evenly, but that’s in the perfect world! Don’t you hate it when you buy a pack of snitzel, the top one looking perfect, only to unwrap it at home to find lumpy badly cut meat underneath? Most likely, you’ll need to take to it with a mallet. Protect the surface of the meat with a clean plastic bag or double thickness of plastic food wrap (plastic allows you to keep an eye on progress!) and beat gently with a mallet until meat is of an even thickness. When you use a mallet, don’t bang it down hard in one place or you will tear the meat fibres, instead, lower the mallet onto the meat exerting a downward force, but slide the mallet across the meat. That way it will stretch the meat and make it thinner without tearing fibre.
The meat can be floured, then dipped in beaten egg and coated with crumbs, or more simply, dipped in egg then crumbs. What’s the difference? The flour creates a thicker coating which helps repel oil or butter when cooking, and forms a nice even crust. But often I do it the Italian way – or as my late mother-in-law, Mamma Rosa did at any rate, and soak the snitzel in beaten egg, drain off the egg and coat it in crumbs. I like this method because it is faster, less messy, and believe it or not, the egg helps tenderize the meat. Mamma Rosa would soak the meat in the beaten egg for about 30 minutes while she grated crusts of dried bread for crumbs – it took me ages to work out whether the meat simply sat there while she grated away, or whether it was a trick; but after many trials, I concur, it certainly does tenderize the meat.
Always add a few pinches of salt to the egg because it thins the egg making it easier to get a thin silky coating on the meat. You can remove the chalaza (the goobeyish ‘cord’) by dipping in a fork and catching it on the tines if you prefer it out of the way. For the classic method, prepare meat one piece at a time. Dust with flour, shaking off excess, dunk meat in egg, lift it above the egg to let excess drip off (easy when the egg has been thinned with salt and the chalaza has been removed), then drop it into crumbs. Press crumbs on lightly making sure there are no wet patches.
I put both flour and crumbs on paper towels then simply bundle up the leftovers and throw them out – it saves on washing up! I also rest the coated snitzel for 10-30 minutes before frying to allow the coating to adhere and firm.
Have plenty of oil heating in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium-high heat. Once oil is hot – on the point of shimmering, but not so hot as to give off a haze – drop in the snitzels. Don’t crowd the pan. The oil should be sufficient so that it bubbles up around the pieces of snitzel and the meat sizzles.
Cook until golden – don’t let the snitzels burn – then turn pieces and cook the second side until golden. Remove from pan, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately with lemon wedges. If you need to cook a second batch, scoop out any crumbs with a small metal sieve (they will burn if left in the oil), add more fresh oil, reheat, then add next batch of snitzels.
I use plain flour and panko crumbs for coating. Panko crumbs are particularly good for snitzels because they are dry and flaky and form a crisp and crunchy coating, but you can make your own fine dry breadcrumbs at a fraction of the price. Read here.
Check out Pork Snitzels with Parmesan Crust