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Schnitzel is a meat dish made up of a very thin boneless cutlet of veal, pork, beef or chicken that is either breaded and deep fried or pan fried with or without breading. The most well known Schnitzel is Wienerschnitzel which is traditionally Veal, breaded with crumbs and served with lemon and German potato salad or parsley potatoes and sometimes Lingonberry Jam.
Where does the word Schnitzel come from?
The word Schnitzel is believed to come from the word der Schnitz which means a slice or a cut, similarly Schneider means a tailor. (Because he is a cutter, of fabric)
A popular bread that uses the word base is Schnitzbrot. Usually it is slices of apple or pear and other dried fruits and nuts for the Christmas season.
Two other recipes of note that use a similar word is Mandelschnitten which is an almond cookie, and Schneiderfleken which means tailor scraps. It is a pastry grandmothers made from scraps of dough.
When did this style of cooking start?
The idea of tenderizing a piece of tough meat by pounding it is evident in the oldest relics of the history of man.However the Romans left evidence of refinement of a thin slice of meat, dredged in breading and fried around in the 1 century BC around Europe. Marcus Gavius Apicus the James Beard of his time, very likely had much to do with the development of this dish. Apicus was a most interesting pioneering man that really got people thinking beyond survival when it came to food.
In the middle ages it appears to be a very popular dish in both Northern Italy and what is Austria now, and the common meat was veal.The most famous of all Schnitzels is Wiener Schnitzel which is to Austria as a Steak and baked potato would be to the United States.
Veal of course became the standard for Wiener Schntizel and in Austria you legally MUST use veal. However throughout the world Schnitzel is made and sold using beef, pork, and chicken as well as veal.