What to Order In A German Restaurant can be intimidating for those not familiar with the cuisine or language. After staring at the menu (speisekarte) trying to decipher words that seem to have way too many letters, your eyes settle on one word you recognize…Schnitzel. The word means “cutlet” and you slowly breathe a sigh of relief. While maybe not the most adventurous item on the menu, you can be assured of getting a dish that everyone loves, the locals and tourists alike.
Technically this simple classic is an Austrian specialty rather than German but is widely eaten across both countries. The Austrian dish that most of us are familiar with is Weinerschnitzel, a cutlet that must be prepared with veal. It is pounded thin, coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and then quickly fried in butter. It is absolutely delicious and a popular dish that you can’t go wrong in ordering.
Schweineschnitzel is equally popular in Germany because it is more economical and richer in flavor. It is a classic cutlet of tender pork that is encased in a crispy golden crust on the outside and is juicy and flavorful on the inside.
German Pork Schnitzel, “Schweineschnitzel”
Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly
- 2 – 3 pork cutlets, pounded thin (about 1/2 inch thick or less if you prefer)
- salt and pepper to taste (I also like to use garlic powder and onion powder for extra flavor)
- flour for dusting
- 1 – 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 c. fine breadcrumbs
- peanut or canola oil, enough to come halfway up the side of the cutlets
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- finely chopped parsley, for garnish
- sliced lemons
Pat the cutlets dry with paper towel, season each side well with salt and pepper then dust lightly with flour, shaking off any excess. Dip the cutlets into the beaten egg, letting the excess dip off. Coat both sides of the cutlets into the breadcrumbs. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter and oil over medium high heat. Add the cutlets and fry until golden brown on the first side, about 3 or 4 minutes, turn and cook 2 to 3 minutes more until golden, being careful not to overcook. Drain on paper towels then plate, garnish with parsley and serve with sliced lemons.
If you look at a menu written in German more closely, you will see schnitzel as the second half of many of the entrée items listed. These are variations of schnitzel, each with a different name depending on the meat used and how it is garnished.
Jägerschnitzel is topped with mushrooms gravy, Zwiebelschnitzel is topped with fried onions, Holsteinschnitzel is topped with a fried egg, Rahmschnitzel is topped with a cream sauce and Schnitzel Wiener Art means a schnitzel made in the style of Vienna but with a meat other than veal. If you don’t want to eat veal or pork, schnitzel is also made with chicken Hänchenschnitzel or turkey Putenschnitzel.
Schnitzel is good anytime of the year. In the warm months, schnitzel served with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkled with parsley would go well with kartoffelsalat which is potato salad or gurkensalat which is a cucumber salad and in the cold months, schnitzel is delicious served with a hearty mushroom cream sauce and kartoffel which are potatoes or spätzle which are egg noodles, and perhaps rotkohl which is a sweet and sour red cabbage.
If you are traveling to Germany or even Austria, I would suggest buying yourself a menu translator before you leave home. I’ve had mine for years and it helps me order in confidence if no English menu is available in the restaurant where I am dining. That will be the case in many restaurants unless they cater to tourists. I’ve also found that many German waiters and waitresses speak English and are more than happy to explain dishes that I can’t find in my translator.
My husband and I will be heading to Germany in October and I know that one meal we will enjoy on the trip will be schnitzel. Even if you aren’t planning to fly off to Germany or Austria anytime soon, you can prepare a delicious schnitzel dinner at home that everyone will enjoy.