All traditional German restaurants will have at least one schnitzel on the menu. If it isn’t the world-famous Wiener Schnitzel or the ever-popular Jaeger Schnitzel, it is guaranteed to be a Zigeuner Schnitzel.
Sometimes known as Balkan Schnitzel, this is a winning combination of golden crumbed pork schnitzel, topped with a lightly spicy sauce of bell peppers, tomatoes and plenty of paprika.
What does Zigeuner Schnitzel mean?
Zigeuner is simply the German word for gypsy, and this recipe is a classic crumbed pork chop in a ‘gypsy sauce’. It is more of a poetic name than anything else, as this recipe does not feature in any authentic Sinti or Roma cooking.
In fact, I think the sauce is a lot more inspired by the flavours of a Hungarian-style paprika goulash, as it is filled with red and yellow bell peppers, garlic and paprika powder.
What meat to use for Zigeuner schnitzel?
Traditionally this schnitzel is made from pork. Any lean, boneless pork cutlets or boneless pork loin chops can be used as long as they are pounded thin. This is a deliciously flavoursome sauce however, and it tastes wonderful with any kind of meat, such as chicken breast or turkey breast.
To make my Zigeuner schnitzel recipe you’ll need the following main ingredients:
- Pork Schnitzels: You can use any type of lean, thinly cut pork steaks for this recipe as long as it is pounded thin. Traditionally, schnitzel meat comes from the loin.
- Breadcrumbs and flour: for that crispy, golden-brown crumb
- Paprika powder: I use both sweet and spicy paprika powder here in Germany. If you are having trouble finding spicy paprika powder, use mild chili powder or cayenne pepper instead.
- Red and Yellow Bell Peppers: Sweet red and yellow peppers form the base of the paprika sauce. It is possible to use green bell pepper, though it isn’t as tasty in this dish.
- Canned tomatoes and tomato paste: I recommend using whole, peeled tomatoes for the best results.
- French Fries: It is traditional to serve Zigeuner Schnitzel with french fries (Pommes Frites). It’s also delicious served with a traditional Bavarian Potato Salad.
How to make Zigeuner Schnitzel:
This is a fairly simple recipe with only a few steps:
- First, pound your schnitzels thinly, then dredge through flour, eggs and fresh breadcrumbs.
- Next, make the Zigeuner sauce by sautéing the peppers, onions and garlic until tender. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and spices, then simmer until thick and reduced.
- Then, fry your schnitzels in plenty of butter and oil (in Germany they say your schnitzel should float in the oil, but that’s not strictly necessary) until golden brown.
- Lastly, top your schnitzels with plenty of sauce and serve with french fries!
Prepare in advance
Zigeuner schnitzel makes a fantastic weeknight dinner as you can do lots of prep work in advance. The sauce can be made up to a week in advance and simply heated through before serving, and you can crumb the schnitzels up to 24 hours before cooking them.
Because schnitzels are so thin they cook up extra quick, which means you can have dinner ready in a flash.
It’s tempting when cooking meat to copy all those TV chefs and get the pan screaming hot before adding the meat. This is not the way to cook schnitzel!
If the pan is too hot, the schnitzel will simply burn. It’s better to gently cook schnitzel over medium to low heat, turning just once when the breadcrumbs have turned golden brown.
What to serve with schnitzel?
This particular schnitzel is usually served with french fries. If you fancy, you could serve it with a classic Bavarian Potato Salad (Kartoffelsalat) instead. Most definitely you’ll want a frosty cold German beer!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can Zigeuner Sauce be frozen?
Yes! It freezes beautifully. Defrost overnight in the fridge before using.
Can I reheat schnitzel?
Yes, you can. I like to reheat it in the oven, loosely tented with foil. That way it stays crisp.
Can I make this recipe low Carb?
Sure! Just don’t crumb the schnitzels. The sauce is loaded with flavour, so it is perfectly tasty even without the bread crumbs.
Zigeuner Schnitzel Recipe
for the schnitzel:
- 4 pork schnitzels (500g / 1lb. boneless pork chops / escalopes)
- 2 Tbsp flour (plain or all-purpose)
- 2 tsp sweet paprika powder
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp sunflower oil
- 50g butter
for the Zigeuner / Paprika Sauce
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 large red bell pepper, finely sliced
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, finely sliced
- 2 medium red onions, halved and sliced
- 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste or tomato puree
- 400g (14 oz.) can of whole, peeled tomatoes
- 125 ml (½ cup) dry white wine
- 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
- 1 tsp sweet paprika powder
- 1 tsp spicy paprika powder or mild chili powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- sea salt and black pepper
- small bunch of fresh parsley
- French fries / pommes frites
- lemon wedges
- PREPARE THE SCHNITZELS: Use a meat tenderizer or rolling pin to pound the schnitzels thinly. Season well with salt and pepper.
- CRUMB THE SCHNITZELS: Stir the flour and paprika powders together in a shallow bowl, pour the eggs into a second shallow bowl, season with a little salt and spread the breadcrumbs over a large dish. Working one at a time, dredge the schnitzels through the flour, then the beaten egg mixture, shaking off any excess. Place into the breadcrumbs, turning until covered. Set aside.
- SAUTÉ THE VEGETABLES: Melt the butter and oil together in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the peppers and red onions to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, stirring until soft. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir to combine.
- MAKE THE SAUCE: Use a pair of clean scissors to cut the tomatoes in the can, then add to the pan along with the wine, stock powder, paprika powders and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer for 10 minutes until reduced. Pour into a bowl or small saucepan and keep warm.
- FRY THE SCHNITZELS: Wipe out the frying pan with a paper towel, then return to the heat. Melt the butter and oil together, then gently cook the schnitzels two at a time, turning when golden brown. You’ll need around 3-4 minutes on each side. Keep the first schnitzels warm while cooking the remainder.
- SERVE: Divide the schnitzels between 4 warmed plates, top with the Zigeuner sauce, fresh parsley and serve with French fries and lemon slices on the side.
- If you can't get a mixture of bell peppers, use all red peppers instead.
- 1 medium onion weighs approximately 200g.
- Feel free to add more paprika powder of a squeeze of lemon juice to taste.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 schnitzel
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 475Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 187mgSodium: 256mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gProtein: 35g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
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