The Best Fried Chicken You're Not Making

Rachel Tepper Paley
March 26, 2014

Photo credit: Getty

Picture a dish that’s breaded, fried, and made of chicken. No, it’s not a greasy, red bucket of KFC. It’s chicken schnitzel, and it’s a pity you’re not eating it right now.

Schnitzel, a dish of Austrian extraction, is a flattened piece of tenderized meat coated in flour, dipped in beaten eggs, covered in breadcrumbs, and finally pan-fried in oil. These days, one can make schnitzel using nearly any protein, but Wiener schnitzel—a breaded cutlet of pounded veal—has been popular in Austria for decades.

If schnitzel sounds curiously similar to the Italian preparation Milanese, you’re onto something. Wiener schnitzel is said to have meandered to Austria from Italy, thanks to the Austrian Field Marshal Count Joseph Radetzky, who brought the recipe over in 1857.

After European immigrants introduced the dish to Israel in the 20th century, chicken schnitzel has since become a popular street food there. Many restaurants toss sesame seeds and paprika into the chicken’s breading, and stack the cutlets in pita sandwiches piled high with Israeli cucumber-and-tomato salad, hummus, hot sauce, tahini, and—just for good measure—a generous heap of French fries.

Here’s an adapted recipe from Israel’s oldest newspaper, Haaretz, which credits it to Tel Aviv’s Café Noir. (Sans sesame seeds, but feel free to add some if you like.) The next time you get a hankering for fried chicken, skip the bucket and try this instead.

Chicken Schnitzel
Adapted from Haaretz, adapted from Café Noir
Serves 6

7 eggs
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 cups of breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 “butterflied” chicken breasts, about 6 oz each, pounded with a mallet to about 1/8 in thickness
Vegetable oil, for frying
Scant cup of flour
Pita bread, hummus, Israeli salad, hot sauce, and tahini for serving.

1. Whisk eggs with mustard, set aside in large bowl.

2. Mix breadcrumbs with salt and pepper, set aside on large plate.

3. Dip both sides of flattened chicken breasts in plate of flour; tap to rid excess flour. Then, carefully dip chicken first into the egg batter, then into the bread crumb mixture.

4. Fill large, wide pan with about one inch of oil. Pour cup of flour on plate; set aside.

5. Heat oil in large pan, until oil sizzles when a pinch of bread crumbs is tossed in. Add two chicken cutlets at a time, frying on both sides until golden. Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

6. Serve in pita with hummus, Israeli salad, hot sauce, and tahini.