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Wiener Schnitzel

The Cuisine of Vienna

With this week’s Food, Wine and Travel devoted to part IV of the 2018 Publishers Tour, we have stepped away from Italian recipes from Italy to bring you the cuisine of Vienna, Austria. The Viennese cooking tradition developed from many different sources and an Italian influence has been strong since the early 17th century. Viennese cuisine is best known for its pastries, such as strudels, but it includes a wide range of other unique fare. Dishes that depend heavily on meat, such Wiener Schnitzel (veal coated in breadcrumbs and fried), Tafelspitz (boiled beef), Beuschel (a gravy containing veal lungs and heart) and Selchfleisch (smoked meat) with sauerkraut and dumplings, are typical of its cooking.

Wiener Schnitzel

Few foods are more evocative of Austrian cuisine than Wiener Schnitzel, which translates as Viennese cutlet.

Ingredients

  • 4 (5-ounce) veal cutlets, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (large and well-beaten)
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • Oil or lard (for frying, lard is traditional)

Preparation

To pound meat thinly, place the cutlet between sheets of plastic wrap for easier washing up. Use a heavy, flat-surfaced pan to pound if you don’t have a meat mallet. Pound the meat evenly to 1/4-inch thickness for best results. To bread the schnitzels, set up 3 shallow dishes: place the flour and salt in one; the eggs in the second and the breadcrumbs in the third dish.

In a large skillet, heat at least 1/4 inch of oil to 350 F. Working one at a time, dredge cutlets first in flour until the surface is completely dry. Dip in egg to coat. Allow the excess to drip off for a few seconds then roll quickly in the breadcrumbs until coated. Do not press the breadcrumbs into the meat. The crust should not adhere completely but form a loose shell around the schnitzel.

Immediately place meat in the pan with the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Cook the schnitzel in batches, if necessary. Fry the schnitzel for 3 to 4 minutes on one side. Make sure the breaded meat “swims” in fat. The breading will take on less oil than if the meat is sticking to the pan and the breadcrumb topping has a chance to puff up a little.

Turn and fry an additional 3 minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Remove from pan, allow the oil to drain off. Wiener Schnitzel traditionally is served with lemon slices and a green salad, potato salad or cucumber salad.

While in Vienna, the travelers capped off their visit to the Imperial Palace of Schloss Schönbrunn with extraordinary pastries at the Café Residenz. Known for Austrian delicacies such as Emperor Franz Joseph’s favorite dish, Tafelspitz and a fine Viennese schnitzel, it is also world-renowned for homemade cakes and pastries. Located in the former dining hall of the Habsburgs’ guards, today elegant Ober (Viennese coffee house waiters), serve guests specialties such as Wiener Melange and Sachertorte. For those who wish to know how an original Viennese apple strudel is prepared, the unique demonstration is held in the Hofbackstube, where the court bakery was once located.

The atmosphere brings together all of the elements of a traditional Viennese coffee house with cozy seating, beneath noble chandeliers. Opened in 1998, Café Residenz is run by the Querfeld family, who also own the legendary Café Landtmann, which was originally established in 1873. Not to be missed is the Sachertorte.

Sachertorte

This rich dessert is a refined, elegant combination of chocolate flavors, complemented by whipped cream.

Ingredients

  • 4 ½ ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup apricot glaze
  • small batch chocolate glaze
  • sweetened whipped cream , for serving

 Preparation

To make the torte, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper. Dust the sides of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.

In the top part of a double boiler over very hot, but not simmering water, melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat and let stand, stirring often, until cool. Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty standing mixer fitted with the paddle blade on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. On low speed, beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Return the speed to medium-high and beat until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the chocolate and vanilla.

Beat the egg whites and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer on high speed just until they form soft, shiny peaks. Do not overbeat. Stir about one fourth of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites, leaving a few visible wisps of whites. Sift half of the flour over the chocolate mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining flour. Spread evenly in the pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and invert the cake onto the rack. Remove the paper and reinvert on another rack to turn right side up. Cool completely.

To assemble – using a long serrated knife, trim the top of the cake to make it level. Cut the cake horizontally into two equal layers. Place one cake layer on an 8-inch cardboard round. Brush the top of the cake layer with the apricot glaze. Place the second cake layer on top and brush again. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining glaze. Transfer the cake to a wire rack placed over a jelly-roll pan lined with waxed paper. Let cool until the glaze is set.

Next, make the chocolate glaze; it must be freshly made and warm. Pour all of the warm chocolate glaze on top of the cake. Using a metal offset spatula, gently smooth the glaze over the cake, allowing it to run down the sides, being sure that the glaze completely coats the cake. Cool until the glaze is barely set, then transfer the cake to a serving plate. Refrigerate until the glaze is completely set, at least 1 hour. Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 1 hour before serving. To serve, slice with a sharp knife dipped into hot water and top with a large dollop of whipped cream on the side.