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Crispy cutlets dredged in flour, eggwash and breadcrumbs, pan-fried to golden brown perfection, doused with a squeeze of citrus and sprinkled with a pinch of salt.
You know it as “Wienerschnitzel.” I know it as “Little Guys.”
The story as to why or how my siblings and I grew up calling schnitzel “Little Guys” doesn’t exist. Blame it on randomness. Consider it relatively odd. Go ahead, cock your head and go “huh?”
To this day my family still laughs thinking about the origin of the Little Guys name. But regardless of what anyone called it, Little Guys were a weekly staple in our American-Hungarian home. There were Little Guys with mashed potatoes. Little Guys with red cabbage. Little Guys with cucumber salad. Heck, there were even Little Guys with barbecue sauce.
And while traditional Wienerschnitzel is made with veal, we often put our own American spin on this eastern European classic by subbing in chicken, turkey or even pork. And after years of using traditional breadcrumbs, this past Christmas I got a lesson from Wolfgang Puck, the Wienerschnitzel master, who told me that crushed Panko is the secret to the lightest, crispiest, most golden brown crust imaginable.
- Four 8-ounce veal, chicken, turkey or pork scaloppini
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs, beaten together with 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs, crushed
- Peanut oil, for pan-frying
- Lemon wedges
Season the scaloppini with salt and pepper on both sides then dredge them in the flour, then in the eggwash and then in the crushed Panko breadcrumbs.
Heat a large pan over medium heat and add enough peanut oil so that the oil will rise up to half of the thickness of the cutlets.
Test the hotness of the oil by dipping one tip of the breaded cutlet into the oil. You want to hear a distinct sizzle.
Pan-fry each of the cutlets until golden brown, turning them over as necessary.
Once fully cooked, remove the cutlets from the pan and place them on a paper towel-lined plate. Season them immediately with salt.
Serve with a slice of lemon and your favorite accouterments, like red cabbage, potatoes and cucumber salad.
Recipe adapted from Wolfgang Puck.
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