The big difference between Polish and German Schnitzel is that Polish Schnitzel uses ground meat in place of thin cutlets. ( Addendum, read the comments on this topic from some viewers in Poland, they have corrected me on this. I guess mine is more common in the Detroit area ). I prefer the Polish style as you can add extra ingredients to the mix and are not limited to dry spices mixed in with the flour. Although I don’t remember my mom making these when I was a kid, I do order them at my favorite Polish restaurant Polonia in Hamtramck Michigan. Based on the fact that the Schnitzel at Polonia tasted similar to their meatballs with some subtle differences, I started with my base recipe for meatballs. I also included some internet searching (can’t remember all of the sites) and began tweaking the ingredients until I was happy with the results. Although these always turn out well and my wife likes them better than my meatballs, I’d love to find the missing spice that I can’t seem to identify at the restaurant. I guess I’ll have to keep trying which isn’t all that bad. I think if you make these you will agree that eating these while tweaking the recipe is far from being a punishment. As always if you change one of my recipes and think you have made it better please drop me a line and let me know what changes you have made. Here is what you will need to get started.
1/2 pound of 80/20 beef
1/2 pound of ground pork
1/4 cup of fine chopped onion
2 green onions white and green parts sliced into thin rounds
1/3 to 1/2 cup homemade coarse breadcrumbs (not the store-bought sawdust garbage) plus more for dredging
2 tablespoons double strength tomato paste (I like Amore brand in the squeeze tube)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (then to taste)
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper (then to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Emeril’s Essence (optional) I know, Emeril is not Polish but it works
Directions: Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl (except for the bread crumbs for dredging). Shape to your desired size. (I make five oblong patties out of this recipe). Press the patties into more homemade breadcrumbs on a platter (whatever sticks is fine) and fry in the oil of your choice until done. Serve with the side dishes of your choice. I’ve served these with mashed potatoes, Pierogi, German Spaetzle, etc. you name it it’s all good.
COOKS NOTE: Prior to completing any of my ground meat recipes I always fry a small patty and taste for seasoning before completing the entire batch. (Ancient Polish secret)