Since you can all make it on autopilot, you don’t really need a recipe for Wiener schnitzel, so my introduction today is going off-piste into linguistic territory. A schnitzel is a thin, breaded, fried cutlet traditionally made from veal; the ‘Wiener’ part means ‘from Vienna’. In Hungary they call the dish Bécsi szelet, Bécs being the Hungarian name for Vienna. And in Hungary the technique of coating meat in breadcrumbs is called ‘panírozás’, from the verb ‘panírozni’. If you want to make a joke that only a Hungarian will get, you can refer to the act of putting on make-up as panírozás.
Our version of Wiener schnitzel uses turkey rather than veal and the basic recipe below lends itself to some experimentation. (Zita has become quite expert at incorporating spices and lemon zest into the flour and breadcrumbs. For an even more exotic take, try Ottolenghi’s recipe that uses tahini in both coating and sauce.) It is a cornerstone of your repertoire because I would invariably put it on the weekly menu for Monday nights, when I would be out at Choir – and of course it was one of the four dishes Babú ‘invited’ the girls to make during that unforgettable, volcano-blighted trip to Budapest in April 2010 (see Banoffee pie). Its traditional accompaniment is a potato salad, but we eat it more commonly with boiled new potatoes or chips, and steamed green beans.
1 pack quick-cook turkey steaks
60g seasoned flour (salt, pepper & nutmeg + any embellishments you like)
1 pack dried breadcrumbs – you will need more than you think
Oil for frying
Lemon quarters for serving
Set up your assembly line: flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs in three wide bowls. Dry the turkey steaks, then dip each in turn in the flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Keep in a single layer on a large plate.
Heat the oil in a large flat frying pan, switch on the extractor fan and fry the schnitzels on a medium heat until golden brown on both sides. You don’t want the heat too high because the breadcrumbs are liable to catch and burn. Drain on kitchen paper and serve at once with lemon wedges, mayonnaise and ketchup.