Whomst among us doesn’t love a bloody good schnitty? From the richest Kings to the poorest souls, not a mouth alive isn’t set aflame, tongue a-tinglin’, by the thought of a slab of flattened chook – crumbed and fried golden brown – resting gently atop a bed of chipped potat; the finest clippings of the garden providing a burst of colour as the vegetable accompaniment no one will ever eat. Combined with a freshly poured schooey or pint of ice cold amber tap beer and the hanging aroma of barfly piss wafting in from the alleyway, the humble chicken schnitzel is as integral to the Australian experience as egging politicians, spending rent money on a Jetstar flight to Bali, or copping shin lacerations after accidentally mowing a tree branch.
But, much like deciding whether to charge a lung lolly now or wait for half time and risk some weekend warrior yoinking your seat at the bar, ordering a schnitty is a game of choice.
What sauce do you opt to accompany your schnitzel? What does your choice of hot liquid say about you as a person? Which is the mightiest food lube for your counter meal?
Behold, our definitive and legally binding ranking of pub sauces. Get your knives from the tray in the dining room ready. We’re getting controversial.
Statistically speaking*, you all have at least one mate absolutely fucked enough to put fish sauce on a schnitty. These people are criminals who should be locked away, no parole. A schnitty sauce that’s only acceptable if you’ve been just been released from the Blast From The Past bunker and are unfamiliar with the concepts of “schnitzel,” “chicken,” or “taste.” A horrible mistake you’ll only ever make once.
11) SWEET CHILLI & SOUR CREAM
I once saw an absolute wreck of a bloke in a Hahn Ice singlet absolutely mauling his way through a schnitty that was swimming in sweet chilli and sour cream while simultaneously nursing a Jim Beam & orange juice and a bashed pouch of White Ox at 10:43am in a suburban pokies bistro. So if you were wondering what kind of life choices you’d have to make to reach a point where this on a schnitzel would be acceptable, the answer is “poor ones.”
If it’s purely for the chips, go nuts. Go to town. Put your fried potato in the garlicy egg dip as much as you want. But you keep that shit the fuck away from the chook at all costs. This is the pub, for god’s sake. There’s etiquette to be observed. You want mayo on your chook? You go get a dirty KFC burger like everyone else. Show some damned respect.
Just order a parma you fucking coward.
Did you drive your DMC Delorian to the pub after downing several West Coast Coolers at home while pumping Falco on your National Electronics stereo system? Are you an adventurous housewife preparing food for the key party you’ve convinced your white bread husband to get excited for despite the fact he’s deeply distrustful of your swinging friends all of whom are named “Axel” and “Susan”? Is this the fucking 1980s, son?? Choose a different sauce.
The humble Aussie battler of sauces. Prince of Pantries. Staple of barbecues. And a perfectly fine condiment for chicken schnitzel usage for anyone who still has training wheels on their bike. Grow up.
6) GARLIC BUTTER
Now we’re getting somewhere. The chook has already been hand-crafted in a shallow pool of fat, so what better way to prepare it for rapid consumption than by lobbing a dollop of garlicy butter on there to instantly melt while still piping hot? The only problem here being that, given the size of your average schnitty, the sheer amount of butter needed to reach the far edges of the dish is life-shortening. Is it worth it? Hard to say.
5) RED WINE JUS
Sure, it’s a sauce much more suited to the $12 rump steak Tuesday night special, where its fruity depth and smoky resonance turns even the toughest of boot leather beef into an aromatic delight. But do not discount the red wine jus’s benefits on white meat either. The lightness of the schnit and the robust brawn of the jus lilt and sway with and against each other in a sensual pas de deux; a culinary ballet worthy of Nureyev or Pavlova. Just, y’know, consider going outside to fart immediately afterwards. A truly room-clearing gastric combination.
Some may say this absolute pub classic ranks far too low on this list. Others may say it doesn’t rank far too low enough. I say the terrible fungus is a crutch wielded irresponsibly by kitchen cowboys keen to mask the fact they can’t get a proper handle on a simple gravy. When it’s right, it’s a marvel. When it’s wrong, it’s disastrous. And that’s a line far too few know how to walk without going completely ass over tit.
3) LEMON SQUEEZE & SPRINKLE OF SALT
The dark horse of condiments. Why leave your comfortable pub stool to go all the way over to the sauce rack when you have everything you need on the plate right there? A generous honk on the lemon wedge, the titty of the pub plate, and a sprinkle of salt is sometimes all you need. Let that glorious hunk of chook speak for itself. Nay, let it sing.
The spicy boy. The tongue tingler. The heat machine. A sauce for the more adventurous pub palate. A meaty sauce with significant heft, the pepper or peppercorn sauce pairs with a chicken schnit like a coffee, a dart, and a good look around on a crisp country morning. It revives, revitalises, and puts a spring in your step. Pepper gets thrown around on the table like common condiment trash, yet does the work of a spice ten times its prestige. And yet where is its bloody parade, I ask you. Put me in a boat of it and send me out to sea.
It doesn’t matter if it’s carefully constructed sauce of pan juices and flour, or if it’s just half a tin of Gravox that’s had the kettle run over it. There is no schnitzel on the face of planet earth that cannot, and will not, be improved by lascivious dollops of thick, brown gravy. Shit-like in consistency and heaven-like in taste, there is simply no hornier schnitty sauce on the market. The original and the best. Absolutely untouchable.
Christ almighty it’s a nice day to go to the pub.