What is it?
Everyone knows what a schnitty is, right? But schnitzel now goes beyond schnitzel. Beneath those golden crumbs you will find not veal or pork but cauliflower steak, a thick slice of eggplant, rare-breed pork chop, quail breast or tender duck breast. It seems we'll eat pretty much anything as long as it is crumbed and fried.
Where is it?
At London's modern Austrian Boopshi's Schnitzel & Spritz, you can choose your schnitzel, top it with gravy, fried duck egg or anchovies, and pair it with a sparkling spritz aperitif. In New York, chef Harold Dieterle's The Marrow offers pan-fried duck schnitzel with quark spaetzle, hazelnuts, a cucumber-potato salad and stewed wolfberries.
Closer to home, Canberra's Lonsdale Street Roasters, co-owner Paul Hutt celebrated LSR's new kitchens with a crisply crumbed duck schnitzel. "We sous-vide the duck breast so we can control the quality of the cooking," he says. "It's great with the bite of fresh horseradish or mustard, and the extra crispness of Japanese panko."
Melbourne's Mrs Parmas offers chicken, veal or eggplant parma (a brother from a different mother) topped with double-smoked ham, napoli sauce and cheese, or the mighty Parma'geddon armed with blow-your-top-off house-made chilli sauce.
Over at Fitzroy's Naked for Satan and its rooftop bar Naked In The Sky, the bestseller is crazily crunchy eggplant doused in honey and blue cheese. "It's our staple crumbed and fried signature dish," says co-owner Pat Fink. "It just has that plain old delicious factor, that outer crunch and inner moistness that people love."
Why do I care?
Because, let's face it, the old schnitzel could do with a bit of reinventing.
Can I do it at home?
Yes, with vegetables, red meat, pork, chicken or fish. Top with a fried egg or serve with pickles, potato salad or coleslaw.
The real secret to that golden crispness is Japanese panko, super-crisp bread that is flaked, rather than crumbed, available from Japanese stores and bigger supermarkets.
4 fresh duck breasts, skinned
100g plain flour
sea salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
100g panko or dried breadcrumbs
grated zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
1 orange, cut into wedges
1. Place each duck breast between two lengths of plastic wrap, and gently pound with a rolling pin or meat mallet until thin.
2. Set out three shallow bowls. Place the flour, sea salt and pepper in one, the eggs in the second, and the breadcrumbs and orange zest in the third.
3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan.
4. Spread the mustard over one side of each duck breast, then coat both sides lightly in flour, dunk it in the beaten egg, and coat it in the crumbs. Cook two schnitzels at a time for three minutes or until golden, turn and cook to your liking on the other side.
5. Drain on paper towel.
6. Add a little extra oil to the frying pan and cook remaining schnitzels. Serve with orange wedges and a crisp salad or finely shaved cabbage slaw.
Lonsdale Street Roasters, 7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon 02 6156 0975 & 23 Lonsdale Street, Braddon 02 6247 9882, lonsdalestreetroasters.com