Prepare to hunker down and dig into a classic born of classic, Okie Schnitzel. A seasoned, light breading covers marinaded pork that fries up to perfection and pairs great with potatoes.

"Wiener Schnitzel" first appeared in German cookbooks at the end of the 19th century. The dish is prepared from veal slices, butterfly cut, about a quarter inch thin and lightly pounded flat, slightly salted, and rolled in flour, whipped eggs, and bread crumbs, then fried in oil.

"Schnitzel Wiener Art" is an adaption from Austria using the same method, but done with pork cutlets rather than veal. The Schnitzels are usually served with parsley potatoes. When the German immigrants first came to the “Hill County” of central Texas they brought the recipe with them and, with the abundance of beef in the area, it is believed that this is where the chicken fried steak first developed.

Whether it is veal, pork, or beef, I truly enjoy meat prepared this way. But, I do have to admit the Americanized versions take the blue ribbon in my opinion. For as long as I can remember if I showed up at a restaurant I’m not familiar with, I would usually play it safe and order a burger or chicken fried steak, as although some places serve better versions than others, both can be kind of hard to screw up too much.

The biggest problem I see with a Schnitzel type served meat, is many establishments don’t feel that they need to use a good grade of meat. Wrong! There is nothing worse than chewing on a tough cut of meat that has been so called “Chicken Fried.” Some people will buy cutlets rather than making their own. There is nothing wrong with that if you will marinate the meat for several hours before cooking it because if you don’t, I guarantee it is going to be tough and chewy.

If using pork and you don’t mind spending the extra money, tenderloin makes a great tender Schnitzel. Next, comes the breading and seasoning. Too much breading is not good, as well as not having enough breading. Wiener Schnitzel is made with very little seasoning and Chicken Fries can have anything from simple to complex seasoning.

Over the years of making different type Schnitzels, each step in the process is important, but I rate marinating toward the top of the list. Last but not least, schnitzel done right is very tasty on its own, but a good sauce, such as a sour cream dill sauce, used in Austria, or good gravy used in the states, just seems to compliment the meat.

If I’m going to make Schnitzel, I can’t help but incorporate my “Okie” style of cooking to influence my dish, starting with the meat. Veal and tenderloin are both great types of meat to use but can be expensive, so I use pork chops. The meat should marinate at least four hours, and up to overnight to get the meat tender. For adding flavor to the meat, put your seasonings in the marinade. I use things like onion powder, garlic powder, and a little cayenne pepper. Yes, cayenne pepper, you don’t have to add a lot, but most GOOD chicken fry recipes will call for a dash of it. Then of course, salt and pepper. For the breading, I use a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs, as it makes for a light breading that fries to a nice golden brown.

Finally, for my “Okie” version of schnitzel, it needs to be served with homemade bacon grease white gravy and hand cut potatoes, fried or French fried.

I’m fairly certain neither the King of Austria or the German Kaiser ever had Schnitzel served in this Oklahoma manner, but neither ever “Got their Kicks, on Route 66” either.

Okie Schnitzel

Ingredients

1 lb. of pork chops 1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk with a beaten egg 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon onion powder ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 cup flour 2 cups breadcrumbs

Directions

Trim the pork chops of excess fat and pound each piece with a mallet until 1/4-inch thick.

Whisk together buttermilk or plain milk and egg mixture, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne in a shallow dish. Add the pork cutlets. Make sure all the pieces are coated well with the marinade. Cover and keep refrigerated for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Heat 1/2-inch oil in a large high-sided skillet to 350 degrees F; mix the bread crumbs with the flour. Remove the cutlets from the marinade and roll in the breadcrumb/flour mixture.

Gently place into the hot oil without overcrowding the skillet. When the cutlets are golden brown on one side, carefully flip and cook on the other side. Drain well on a paper-towel-lined plate.