I used to claim that German food was my least favorite cuisine. But after a trip to Germany for my nieces wedding in late 2019, I thoroughly changed my mind. One of my most memorable dishes was a pork schnitzel entrée, so when we saw a recipe for German Pork Schnitzel in our latest Milk Street magazine, we knew it had to get on the short list.
During a visit to Berlin, Milk Street staffers learned that the coating for authentic German pork Schnitzel, or Schweineschnitzel, is dry breadcrumbs made from kaiser rolls, which are extremely fine-textured. It’s a bit of work to get them from rolls to fine bread crumbs, but apparently they make all the difference.
Indian ghee (clarified butter) is a counterintuitive ingredient for Schnitzel, but adding just a small amount to the frying oil adds richer, fuller flavor. If you cannot find it, the Schnitzel is still tasty without it I’m told. Typically, I stay away from breaded and fried food, but we felt compelled to give this method a try. Not only does it look attractive, it tastes sehr gute!
To fry the cutlets, use a large Dutch oven instead of a skillet; the pot’s high walls safely contain the hot oil and reduce splatter on the stovetop. To test if the oil is at the correct temperature, an instant or deep-fry thermometer is best. Milk Street suggests lingonberry preserves and lemon wedges as classic Schnitzel accompaniments; we however paired ours with garlicky mashed potatoes and pork gravy (yes, we used a jarred brand).
Tips from Milk Street: Don’t use a heavy hand when pounding the tenderloin. A lighter touch works best to flatten the cutlets to a ⅛-inch thickness without inadvertent tears. After breading the cutlets, fry them right away; if left to stand, the coating won’t puff properly. Finally, when frying the cutlets, don’t crowd them in the pot or they will brown unevenly. Depending on the dimensions of the cutlets and the diameter of your pot, the pieces may need to be fried one at a time.
German Pork Schnitzel
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp. plus 2 cups grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs (see headnote)
- 1¼ pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. ghee (optional)
- Lingonberry preserves, to serve (optional)
- Lemon wedges, to serve
- Heat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the middle position. Tear 6 to 8 plain kaiser rolls (about 1 pound) into 1-inch pieces, then distribute in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until completely dry but not browned, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Cool completely, then transfer to a food processor and process to fine, even crumbs, about 2 minutes. Makes about 1 cup.
- Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven on the middle rack; adjust the heat to 200°F. Put the flour in a wide, shallow bowl. In a second wide, shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the 1 tablespoon oil. Put the breadcrumbs in a third wide, shallow bowl.
- Cut the pork tenderloin in 2 pieces crosswise, making the thinner end slightly larger, then cut each piece in half again. Place 2 pieces between 2 large sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder, gently pound each piece to an even ⅛-inch thickness. Repeat with the 2 remaining pieces. Season each cutlet on both sides with salt and pepper.
- One at a time, coat the cutlets on both sides with flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the eggs, turning to coat and allowing excess to drip off, then coat both sides with breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Place the cutlets on a large plate, stacking them if needed.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the 2 cups oil and ghee (if using) to 360°F. (It takes a while to heat to temperature.) Carefully place 1 or 2 cutlets in the oil—add only as many as will fit without overlapping—and cook, gently jostling the pot so oil flows over the cutlets, until light golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes total; use tongs to flip the cutlet(s) once about halfway through. Transfer to the prepared rack in the oven to keep warm.
- Return the oil to 350°F and cook the remaining cutlets in the same way. Serve with lingonberry preserves (if using) and lemon wedges.