A pork cutlet is a thin, boneless cut of meat that is taken from the loin or leg section of a pig. The meat is sometimes dusted with bread crumbs and fried in butter or oil, but it also can be cooked and served as is. There are many names for pork cutlets around the world, such as pork chops in the United Kingdom, schnitzel in Austria and tonkatsu in Japan. The loin section usually is preferred for a pork cutlet because this is where the most tender and lean cuts can be found. Before the cutlet is fried, it usually is flattened out with a tenderizing hammer to create an even thinner cut of meat, rendering it more malleable and quicker to cook.
The further the cut is from the center of the pig, the bonier and fattier the meat becomes. Pork cutlets are taken from the very center of the animal, known as the tenderloin section. These cuts usually are more expensive, however, becoming less so the further out the meat is cut. Cutlets taken from this region are called pork tenderloin, and the cutlets taken from the leg section are called pork leg cutlets.
Cooking the breaded pork cutlet is achieved by first pounding the meat with a tenderizing hammer, then seasoning the cutlet directly with a choice of herbs and ingredients. Salt, pepper, paprika, sage and oregano are popular choices, but any other seasoning could be used. The meat is then coated in flour, egg and bread crumbs, and then fried over a high heat in a pan until both sides are brown and crispy. The cutlet also can be garnished with a saute of the cooks' choice and served with a wide variety of other foods, such as vegetables, baked potatoes and rice.
Slightly different versions of preparation, cooking and serving are employed around the world. British cuisine usually dictates that the pork cutlet is cooked without bread crumbs. In Russia, the cutlet is coated with bread soaked in milk, onions and various herbs. The breaded cutlet also is eaten as a sandwich, between slices of bread, in this part of the world. The Japanese will sometimes cut the pork cutlet into thin slices and serve it over rice.
Pork is one of the most consistently eaten meats in the world, dating to about 5,000 B.C. The pork cutlet, because of the consistency and lean size of the cut, is a meal that can be prepared, cooked and served in a relatively short period of time. This makes it an ideal meal to whip up when time is of the essence.