When I was little, my mom and dad used to make the best schnitzel (actually they still do). I just loved it when guests would come over because that was when they would make it the most. It is a recipe that they got while living in Germany.
It is funny what your perspective is when you are a child versus when you are an adult. The reason that they would make schnitzel when guests came over was because you could take a very small amount of meat, steak or roast enough for four or five people, and make enough schnitzel to feed 15 to 20 people! This is wonderful because if your food budget is a little tight, and you need to extend your meat supply, this is a really good and tasty way to do it. You can also use cheaper cuts of meat, and nobody will ever know.
I have found that you don’t even have to be picky about what type of meat you use, as long as you have meat that you can pound, it works. You can’t use fish – it would fall apart, but chicken, turkey breast, beef, veal, or pork is wonderful. This is also a really good kid friendly recipe – at least the first part, that of preparing the meat.
Cut the meat into two or three-inch pieces or cubes. There is nothing technical about this; you can really cut them any size because you are going to beat them until you can see through the meat when it is held up. The thinner, the better. That is not an exaggeration. You, or your children, need to pound the meat out until you can literally see light and spaces through the meat. If the meat starts to get too big while beating it out, then just cut it in half and continue pounding until it gets thin. The thinner you pound the meat, the better the end product.
After you have prepared the meat, get the eggs and the bread ready. You will need to guess how many eggs you need to dip the meat in. Depending on how much meat you have, I would start with two or three eggs. Mix the eggs with oil (I like olive oil because it is healthier, but any vegetable oil will do). The mix ratio is one egg to 1-tablespoon oil (don’t measure, just guess). Mix them together with a fork or a whisk.
Next, take some bread and grate it to make bread crumbs (you can use purchased bread crumbs, but why when you’ve got kids that need something to do?) You can grate the bread easily if it is frozen, but it will make the bread more moist when it thaws out. You can use just about any bread product (stale is even acceptable) – wheat, white, seasoned breads, garlic bread, my mom has even used bagels before (it was a little tougher when eating). I’ve always just used wheat or white, but more flavors can’t hurt. Try different products to see what you like. In a pinch, you might even be able to use crushed saltine crackers. I haven't tried that yet.
After you have prepared everything, start an assembly line: dip the meat into a plate of flour with any seasonings you want (it will help the egg to stick to the meat better), then dip into the egg mixture, and then finish up coating both sides with the bread crumbs. This is messy, get over it – it will be worth it. Fry them up in a medium to hot oil. You can deep fry it, but if you don’t have a deep fryer just make sure that you keep enough hot oil in your frying pan. Fry them until they are a nice golden brown on both sides. This won't take long because the meat is so thin. Lay them on a brown paper bag or paper towels to absorb some of the oil. I then like to place them on cookie rack on a pan in the oven, on warm, to keep them nice and warm until ready to serve. They are best served hot but eating cold leftovers from the fridge the next day (provided there are leftovers) has never been an issue for my kids.
Serve with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. You can either sprinkle a little lemon juice on top of it (that’s how my dad eats it) or have a small bowl to dip each forkful in (my mom’s preference). We also like to mix a little mayonnaise and ketchup together to make a sauce to dip it in. That is my preference. Some people like ranch dressing.
You can also get creative and roll up a slice of ham and Swiss cheese, fasten with a toothpick, dip in the flour, egg and crumbs and then fry. Remember, stuffed or not, these don’t take long to cook because the meat is so thin. When you do stuff it, the ham is already cooked and the Swiss cheese needs only to be warmed up – instant Cordon Bleu! Instant YUM!