People have the idea that preparing this dish is incredibly expensive (it’s not), or difficult (it isn’t), or simply a lot of work. Well, it does take some preparation, one piece of oddball equipment, and a couple of extra plates, but once mastered, it’s no more difficult than a stir-fry.
First, you should have the right cut of veal. Most people think they have to shuck out for scaloppine, at ten dollars a serving, when actually, what you want is called a veal round steak or chop. It will be a good-sized piece of meat, maybe three-quarters of a pound, and mine cost four dollars. (Unfortunately, this usually means you have to either go to a butcher shop or have it specially ordered.) It will have a little round bone in the center that you can either leave in or cut out, and then, you have to pound it between two sheets of vegetal parchment or wax paper, ideally with a meat hammer, but you can also use an iron fry pan, an empty wine bottle, or a rolling pin. (If you live in an apartment, try to have this done during the day, but the neighbors might still wonder what you’re up to. Tell them you're beating your meat.)
Prepare three dishes: one with beaten egg (thin with milk if you want), one with flour, and one with bread crumbs (ideally from a kaiser roll). Using your left hand, dip the chop into the egg, then drop it onto the flour. Using your right hand, cover the chop with flour, and then with crumbs. (You can let the chop sit in the crumbs.) Then wash your hands, while you heat up the frying pan. For a regular 10” pan, use about 1 cup of oil or fat -- classically it should be half cooking oil, half lard — and heat until smoking. Cook 2-3 minutes on a side, until it’s golden brown and can be pierced easily with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges. Salt and pepper optional, but really...need I mention?
Along side are usually one or several cold vegetables, such as marinated cucumbers and/or beets and/or string beans, potatoes in oil and vinegar, raw tomatoes, or salad, making this an ideal festive warm weather dish, with cream soup to start and a bakery pastry to follow. If making several, you can keep them warm in an oven for no more than ten minutes — otherwise the breading gets hard and tough. If for some reason you have a leftover or cold one, cut it small and put in the marinade with the potatoes or on a salad.
Once you get proficient at this technique, you can make all manner of specialty schnitzels by leaving off the bread crumbs and making pan sauces with sour cream and flavorings and spices, from the plebeian (onions, lemon, and/or white wine) to the exotic (curry schnitzel anyone? Maybe even Thai? Experiment!). Or go natural and just flour one side, no egg — and saute in butter, with clear soup, butter lettuce, white rice, and peas, for a truly exquisite experience.
Bon appetit, or shall we say, Mahlzeit! Enjoy your schnitzel!