The traditional Wiener Schnitzel is a thin cutlet of veal, which is breaded and fried. Historically, it has been fried in lard. Using a mixture of vegetable oil and butter may not produce the same authentic flavor, but you will live longer. The name translates as Viennese Cutlet into English and Vídeňský řízek into Czech. It is a very traditional Austrian, Czech and German dish, typically served garnished with a lemon slice, and either potato salad or potatoes with parsley and butter on the side.
The dish has a cousin in northern Italian cuisine: "Cotoletta alla Milanese". According to one theory it appeared in Vienna during the 15th or 16th century. According to another, it was introduced in 1857 by Field Marshal Radetzky, who spent much of his life in Milan. Johann Josef Wenzel Graf Radetzky von Radetz, or in Czech Jan Josef Václav hrabě Radecký z Radče, was a 18-19th century Czech nobleman and Austrian general, immortalised by Johann Strauss's "Radetzky March". Whether it was Radetzky who brought the Wiener Schnitzel to Austria or whether it arrived there through other means, the multi-national Austro-Hungarian Empire served as a vehicle for spreading this dish over many diverse cultures. Beside Austria, it exists today in Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Russia, Serbia, even Namibia and South Africa.
Last updated: October 12, 2010