This perfect schnitzel recipe can be an enigma but here it is in all it’s glory. Chicken Saltimbocca Schnitzel.
Do you love a schnitzel? I do, and I believe I’ve come up with the most perfect schnitzel recipe ever. But before we move on – tricky word for some. SH-nit-zel. Easy right?
So the best golden, crispy perfect schnitzel can be a bit of an enigma but I’ve got the only tricks you’ll ever need. Too often, schnitzels can be lacking in flavour. This is because, in this instance, more is more. More spice, that is. Because of the flour, egg, breadcrumbs mix all the flavour can actually get lost so you need to make sure you’re giving that schnitzel all the chance in the world to shine. Add lots of flavour to that coating. It can be as simple as salt and pepper but you need to add more than you think.
Or add some actual spices. Things like garlic powder, onion powder and dried herbs work beautifully. I always like paprika for it’s earthiness and some heat like cayenne is never a bad thing either.
And why Chicken Saltimbocca Schnitzel? Weeeeelllllllll, when we were in Italy on our honeymoon, as you can imagine, there was a bazillion recipes I wanted to try when I got home. Boy, can those Italians cook! One of the most memorable dishes for me was Chicken Saltimbocca. Pure genius in its simplicity, because the flavour was amazing and there are very few ingredients in it.
And surely everything is better schnitelized, right. Yep, new word right there. Schnitelized – the art of turning something into a schnitzel. Anyways, right here two perfect worlds collide. Prosciutto, parmesan, sage and chicken all wrapped up in a crunchy, OMG-can’t-stop-eating-this crumb.
I have a few little tips to making perfect schnitzels. So hear me out. Or don’t and scroll straight down to the recipe and start enjoying schnitzel heaven immediately ?
- The first tip is definitely make your own breadcrumbs. Why? Because you have control over the crispiness and they just taste better. I make my breadcrumbs from good quality, day old bread. I break it up into chunks and use a food processor to chop it into chunky breadcrumbs. When I say chunky, the largest bits should be around 3mm in size. Then I toast them in the oven to dry them out and add a little more flavour. If you do this, you are well on your way to super crispy schnitzels. The type that are still crispy the next day. (Angels sing “aaaaaaaahhhhh”). It’s important to note here, that you can freeze breadcrumbs, so go ahead and make a super batch and freeze them. It doesn’t take long. This also means you never have to throw out bread again. Just keep adding to the freezer stash.
- Tip 2. DON’T double crumb. Sorry but yes, I did feel the need to use capitals there. There is all kinds of ideas out there about the perfect schnitzel and one of them is to double crumb. There is no need. Really. A double crumb can often do the opposite because the hot oil has to do double duty to get to that second layer. Sadly, that all too often leads to crispy crumb, soggy crumb, just cooked chicken with no flavour. Only one layer of crumbs required.
- Give them a bash. Yep, whatever meat you choose the perfect schnitzel starts with a good bash with a meat mallet. Firstly, this tenderizes the meat and secondly an even thickness equals even cooking.
- The next chapter in this schnitzel story is cheese. Only use real parmesan cheese, please. I know I bang on about this a lot but there is a good reason. Get the good stuff and you actually only need to use a small amount. It lasts for, like, FOR-EV-ER in the fridge and it tastes miles above the dry powdered sprinkle on stuff. Enough said.
Moving on ….
- Shallow fry – don’t deep fry. They cook evenly this way and are much easier to judge. To test the heat of the oil, I throw in a breadcrumb or cube of bread. If it sizzles straight away, its hot enough. But make sure to test regularly as it’s heating up, don’t leave it until smoking hot or you’ll have burnt (but certainly crispy) schnitzel. If you have a thermometer, great. You’re looking for 180C / 350F.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. Adding the chicken, which is not as hot as the oil, will drop the temperature of the oil so adding too many at once can cause the oil temperature to drop too low and you’ll end up boiling your schnitzel in oil rather than frying it. Boil – Bad. Fry – Good. A couple at a time will keep the oil temperature just right. By the time the first ones are cooked. The temperature has risen again ready to add the next, cooler schnitzels.
- A perfect schnitzel should be well drained before serving. Don’t worry, even after they rest a good 5 minutes, they’ll still be piping hot. My favourite way to drain fried foods is on a cooling rack over some absorbent paper / kitchen towel (all sitting on a baking tray to make clean up easier).
There are loads of tips and tricks out there, but if you stick to this method it will work every time. You will never have to buy pre-crumbed schnitzels again (and you won’t want to).
Um, are you seriously still here. Get schnitzeling now. Yep, you heard it here first – schnitzeling.
This time last year
- 2 cups vegetable or rice bran oil
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 8-10 fresh sage leaves
- 20 g parmesan finely grated
- 4 slices prosciutto
- 2 cups homemade breadcrumbs
- 1 ½ tablespoons mild paprika (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1/3 cup plain / all purpose flour
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 lemon cut into wedges, to serve
To make breadcrumbs from scratch, tear a loaf of bread (day old is fine) into large chunks, and don’t remove the crusts. Use a food processor to process until they are the processed to your liking. I prefer them still quite chunky (around 3mm for the larger pieces) as it makes for good, crunchiness once cooked. Now transfer them to a large cookie tray and spread them out evenly. Toast in a 150C / 300F, mixing occasionally until they are quite dry. Done. These can be frozen until required.
Lay the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet to pound the breasts until they are even thickness (about 1 – 1.5 cm thick).
Transfer the chicken to a chopping board. Season both sides well with salt and pepper. Depending on size, lay 4-5 sage leaves over the top of each chicken breast. Sprinkle half of the parmesan over each one then lay 2 pieces of prosciutto over each. Cut each chicken breast in half, through the middle.
Mix together the breadcrumbs, paprika, oregano and sea salt flakes and pour into a wide dish. Pour the beaten egg into another dish and the flour into a third dish. Carefully take one piece of chicken place it in the flour. Use 2 hands so you don’t lose any toppings. Turn it over to coat the other side and make sure there is no bare bits of chicken poking through. Repeat this process with the egg and finally the breadcrumb mix, then lay the chicken on a plate. Repeat with the last 3 pieces and transfer to the fridge for ½ an hour. This will help everything adhere nicely making it easier come frying time.
Pour the oil into a large, heavy based saucepan (it should be no more than 1.5cm deep) over high heat. Line a baking tray with kitchen paper towel, then sit a cooling rack over the top. Heat the oil to 180C / 350F on a thermometer or if you don’t have one, keep testing with breadcrumbs until one thrown in sizzles straight away. Gently place 2 pieces into the oil and fry for 8 minutes, turning halfway through. Transfer to the cooling rack and test for doneness. Allow to drain well before serving.
I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon