Servus, Fan-O’s! We’re heading deep into Austria for today’s recipe with some mouthwatering pork schnitzel! This is a fun riff on both pork schnitzel, and its offspring Cotoletta alla Milanese because we’re adding a little parmesan magic with Dan-O’s Cheesoning! This is a quick recipe to throw together, and is just loaded with mouthwatering flavor. Try serving them with Dan’s Gram Gram’s Kartoffelklöße (German Potato Dumplings) for a full traditional Germanic meal!
Like many other foods we’ve covered, the origins of pork schnitzel are hazy at best. While it’s found a home in Vienna, Austria, and it’s fairly popular in Germany and Hungary as well but that doesn’t mean they came up with it. A rather famous, but incorrect, tale of how wiener Schnitzel came to Austria involves the Italian General Joseph Radetzky. Supposedly, when Radetzky was reporting to the Emperor of Austria, Franz Joseph I, he was commenting on the situation in Lombardy. During one impassioned tangent, he mentioned a veal steak that was breaded and fried. Naturally, this piqued the emperor’s interest, and personally requested that Radetzky bring him back the recipe. This story is heavily contested, but it’s a fun tale nonetheless.
There was some validity to the dish coming from Lombardy, or rather Italy in general. In fact, if we were to cross the Alps into Italy, we would quickly find similar dishes in the Northern regions like Milan, with dishes like Cotoletta alla Milanese. It’s practically the same as wiener schnitzel with the exception being they cook the veal with the bone still inside.
Head into Emilia-Romagna, and you’ll find Cotoletta alla Bolognese, named after the city Bologna. It's the same as Cotoletta alla Milanese but now with the addition of Parmesan cheese, and prosciutto. Because of these dishes, Italy claims to have created Wiener Schnitzel long before it was even a thought in Austria. This is supported to an extent with documents being found in Saint Ambrose’s archive that reference lumbolo cum panitio. Rough translation being “little chops with breadcrumbs”. These references are dated as far back to 1148 AD which certainly lends some credence to the claim.
However, there are those who argue that it was the Romans who came up with the dish. We know that the Romans have shown that they were tenderizing meat by pounding it before breading and frying. We mostly know of this because of the De re culinaria or Apicius, one of the most infamous Roman cookbooks that can be dated all the way back to the 1st century. With the many Roman war campaigns, it makes sense that Roman dishes like Schnitzel would diffuse into the Germanic countries. But at the end of the day, there is no definitive answer to where the dish came from, but most would concede that Italy is responsible for this beloved classic.