While describing the proportions of a perfectly pounded-out, breaded pork cutlet, head chef Natalia paused to caution that her meat selection may raise some brows among “schnitzel snobs.”
I couldn’t imagine what controversy could surround this schnitzel preparation since schnitzel — a thin, breaded and fried cutlet of meat — is truly a universal comfort food. Variations of the dish seem to be endless, like Namibia’s customary addition of a fried egg on top, or Israel’s version of turkey seasoned with paprika or sesame seeds. But in schnitzel’s fabled homeland of Austria and neighboring Germany, people are very serious about schnitzel. So serious in fact, that law states Wiener Schnitzel must be made with veal. If the dish is made with any other meat, it legally must be dubbed Wiener Art in a sound effort to out the imposter.
Our “Schnitzel Art” menu decorates the plate of the crisp and juicy pork cutlet with tiny, handmade egg noodles called Spaetzle. The term means “little Sparrow,” which describes its irregular shape. To make these noodles, sticky dough is scraped through a perforated pan and into boiling water. Even though the production of these dough drops is intricate and laborious, our kitchen crafted enough for 450 clients. Natalia welcomed the undertaking. “[My last name] ‘Bushyager’ means ‘deer hunter’ in German, and my mom’s name means ‘fava bean farmer’ in Italian. So I was made for this.”
A deep burgundy cabbage also nests on the plate of schnitzel. Braised in red wine and seasoned with traditional German spices like juniper, bay, caraway, garlic, and black pepper, the cabbage tastes rich, tangy and floral.
At Rebecca Jean Catering, we don’t mind if your schnitzel’s stuffed with something tame like chicken, something wild like boar, or something traditional like veal. As long as the crunch around it is familiar and comforting. That feeling takes Natalia back to her summer in Prague. After living off of stone fruit for days on end, her aunt met her in the Czech Republic’s capital and sat her down for schnitzel.
“Damn, that schnitzel was good!”